Jump to Content

Welcome! You’re browsing the No Depression Archives

No Depression has been the foremost journalistic authority on roots music for well over a decade, publishing 75 issues from 1995 to 2008. No Depression ceased publishing magazines in 2008 and took to the web. We have made the contents of those issues accessible online via this extensive archive and also feature a robust community website with blogs, photos, videos, music, news, discussion and more.

Close This

Town and Country - Shorter Artist Feature from Issue #15 May-June 1998


Ounces of hobos


While the rock world these days feels like it’s casting aimlessly about, waiting and waiting and waiting for the next Next Big Thing to show up and save its sorry ass, you can rest assured that, in every city on the map, there’s a damn good garage band: a group just banging out sloppy, three-chords-and-the-truth rock ‘n’ roll, a band of true believers who still think rock ‘n’ roll really can help save your life. And thank god.

In the Kansas City, the Bindlestiffs are that band. A rootsy three-piece who make one hell of a joyous noise, the Bindlestiffs (a synonym for more than one hobo) have been around long enough now to know a thing or two about the importance of “just” playing rock ‘n’ roll. Back in the ’80s, singer-songwriter-guitarist Mike Niewald and bassist Cory Corbino were in the K.C. band Absolute Ceiling; they formed the Bindlestiffs seven years ago with Wiley (just “Wiley”), the former drummer of San Diego band the Crawdaddys. All the while they have been driving the white line, playing and recording, working toward a record deal, coming oh so close, then feeling burned when it all blew up in their face.

“We were really close to getting signed there five years or so ago,” Niewald says, “but then it turned into legal hassles and negotiations and waiting for phone calls that didn’t come, and it really left a bad taste in our mouths. So now we just want to make music.”

To that end, Niewald went the DIY route and started his own label, Roadhouse Records, which has now released two Bindlestiffs discs, both produced by legendary Missouri roots-rocker Lou Whitney (Morells, Skeletons). “Lou is the old man,” Niewald says affectionately. “He keeps it simple, as little production as possible, which is just perfect for us.”

Their latest, 13 Fl. Oz., is the band’s best yet, raging through moments of CCR twang, Green On Red guitar noise and Flamin’ Groovies pop-rock, all held together by Niewald’s raw, earnest rasp. It’s distinguished by songs that alternately fight for freedom (“No Safe Haven”) and learn how to find it the here and now (“Walk With The King”, “Garden Plot”). Start to finish, it’s a flat raucous blast, always defiantly uninterested in whatever’s supposed to be hip this week, or next. Like the best garage rock, it gets better the louder you turn it up. It’s just rock ‘n’ roll, man.

“You can lose your life waiting on some kind of acceptance from the industry,” Niewald says. “I’m just gonna make good records, the best I can do. And I’m making music with my buddies, Cory and Wiley, just a monster rhythm section. That’s what it’s all about.”

Enjoy the ND archives? Consider making a donation with PayPal or send a check to:
No Depression, 460 Bush St., San Francisco, CA 94108


Did you enjoy this article? Start a discussion about it, or find out what others are saying in the No Depression Community forum.

Join the Discussion »

Find out what's going on in roots music. Share concert photos and videos, learn about new artists, blog about the music you love.

Join the No Depression Community »

Originally Featured in Issue #15 May-June 1998

Buy our history before it’s gone!

Each issue is artfully designed and packed full of great photos that you don‘t get online. Visit the No Depression store to own a piece of history.

Visit the No Depression Store »

From the Blogs

  • Jimbo Mathus on Americana Music Show #188
    On episode 188 of the Americana Music Show, Jimbo Mathus plays tracks from Dark Night Of The Soul, talks about going from "sepia tones to ultrachrome" and the "crazy Mississippi white boy chain."  Also in this episode, indie rock from Bobby Bare Jr., heartland rock from Jonny Two Bags, country rock from Rodney Crowell, road tripo music fr […]
  • The War on Drugs: From Dylan to Dire Straits, By Way of Attrition
    Whether on the basketball court or onstage, when two supreme talents join forces, it tends to make things better. Michael Jordan needed Scottie Pippen, LeBron James needs Dwyane Wade, McCartney clearly needed Lennon, and Salt would be a run-of-the mill condiment without Pepa. But there are exceptions to such… […]
  • Dylan, "Desire" and the (other) Story of Hurricane: A Lesson In Fatherhood
    Reading of the death of former pro boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter today awoke an old memory which reminded me how lucky I was to have, what in retrospect, was a pretty cool father.  I should add by "cool" I do not mean some kind of "over the hill hipster" who, in a desperate attempt at trying to stay relevant smokes pot or acts […]
  • Lachlan Bryan and The Wildes – Black Coffee (Album Review)
    After a successful solo outing, Aussie country singer Lachlan Bryan got his old band back into the studio and came up with this cracker of an album. It was released in the autumn of last year in Australia and subsequently picked up a major award as “Alternative Country” album of the year. Such acclaim means any belated praise from me is superfluous, but I’m […]
  • Album Reviews: Gord Downie & The Sadies, Bruce Springsteen, Lost & Nameless, The Annie Ford Band
    Gord Downie, The Sadies, and the Conquering Sun The lead singer of one of Canada’s most influential rock bands gets together with one of the best live bands ever for a collaborative effort and the expected results could range anywhere from confusion to straight ahead awesomeness. Thankfully (and not surprisingly, given the players involved) the semi-eponymou […]
  • Blackberry Smoke Is the Goddamn Truth
    Southern rock is a stylistic hodgepodge--a musical mutt.  Yet in this gumbo pot of a country, its impurities and cross-breeding make it the most American genre of all. And with the Allman Brothers drawing down, southern rock's current standard bearer is Blackberry Smoke, a lofty perch they hardly jeopardized during a lively set last night at Seattle […]

Shop Amazon by clicking through this logo to support NoDepression.com. We get a percentage of every purchase you make!

Subscribe To the No Depression Newsletter

Subscribe to the No Depression Newsletter