Pulling together the disparate influences of hardcore punk, classic country and alternative guitar bands of the mid-80s, No Depression is arguably alt.country’s touchstone album. This newly released “legacy edition” sees Jay Farrar, Jeff Tweedy and Mike Heidorn’s masterpiece remastered and backed up with 22 extra tracks, including the band’s widely heralded Not Forever, Just For Now demo.
The remastering of the original LP lends the ferocious guitars and raw vocals a deep and more rounded sound. It’s impossible to listen to opener Graveyard Shift or Before I Break without hearing their obvious influences on The Jayhawks, Whiskeytown and Tweedy’s own band Wilco. The album’s immediacy is impossible to escape. Despite its vast scope, it was laid down in 10 frenetic days in 1990, capturing the make-do atmosphere of US punk at the start of that decade.
That DIY approach is reflected among the additional tracks. Outdone’s raucous sensibility is shot through with rough vocal harmonies; the sweetness of the Whiskey Bottle demo points to the band’s affection for country heartbreak. Live cuts No Depression and Blues Die Hard, taken from the band’s Live And Otherwise self-released cassette, showcase a pioneering act that helped change the entire landscape of American music.