French Kiss-Off

SFKS bids adieu.

Though rednecks have been a stock figure of country music since at least 1970 — and there was a peak of Redneck Chic around the time Jimmy Carter was president and Burt Reynolds was still a matinee idol — they have never truly been celebrated just as they are, in all their barefoot, Mountain Dew-swilling, NASCAR-watching glory.

Or at least that's the way the people who write these songs would have you believe rednecks are. Some are better at it than others. "Boondocks" — the super-smarmy Little Big Town hit — is God-awful. It's a standard "I'm proud of where I come from" statement, but it's absolutely rife with clichés — there's "muddy water in my veins," a midnight train, fishin' in the crawfish hole, a tin roof, a gravel road, and, of course, a front porch. Gretchen Wilson, on the other hand, nailed it on "Redneck Woman" — right down to claiming an encyclopedic knowledge of Tanya Tucker, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Hank Jr. Likewise, her delivery is convincing and infectious. And that's because Wilson was, in fact, raised as a redneck, just like she sang in the song.

Wilson speaks for many a Southern gal when she sings, "No, I can't swig that sweet champagne/I'd rather drink beer all night." Perhaps you can relate — guys too. John Nova Lomax

Gretchen Wilson performs with the Shannon Lawson Trio and Jimmy Barret on Thursday, June 29, at the Hard Rock Live, 5747 Seminole Way, Hollywood. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $50 to $100. Call 954-523-3309, or visit www.ticketmaster.com.

Tweedy Cutlet

Once upon a time, guys like Bob Dylan and Gram Parsons blended the earthy honesty of country with the electric dynamics of rock. In the process, they created a genre that has (with few exceptions) stood the test of time.

The '90s saw a revival, led by Uncle Tupelo. When Tupelo disbanded, thanks undoubtedly to the megalithic egos of those involved, one ego went on to form Wilco. The other ego, Jay Farrar, spawned his own equally uninteresting band, Son Volt.

But where Farrar faded into the obscurity he so richly deserved, Wilco has grown with each increasingly dull release to become one of the most popular purveyors of indie rock in the land.

As its albums get progressively sillier and more "artistic," Wilco's popularity grows exponentially in inverse proportion to its musical value. How does a band that excels at so little mean so much to so many?

In Wilco's documentary I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, Jeff Tweedy's insurmountable arrogance exposes itself, as he tells Jay Bennett (who has since left the band) that they should hold back on guitar solos because they "aren't really that important" anymore. Tweedy's is the land of sappy pop, mindless noodling, and pretentious "experiments" that are really, at heart, nothing more than the work of a marginally interesting artist. And that's on a good day.

If Tweedy got little or no airplay in college-radio circles, this would be superfluous. But the band is a darling of soul-patchers and chain-walleters everywhere. It's the mysterious adoration of Tweedy's every flatulent outburst that finds the rest of us flailing, razor in hand, at the engorged heart of this sacred cow. To the slaughterhouse with you, Wilco! John Cramer

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