16 Horsepower Live

Never having heard 16HP, I was expecting some kind of muscleman-core something or other, but it turns out 16 horsepower is only enough for like a small tractor, not a ‘69 Barracuda, so that shows you how much I know about cars and alt-country. 16 Horsepower the band were from Denver and played a brand of folk rock based in part on American mountain music—banjo, acoustic guitar, concertina, a Carter Family cover—but with some modernity to it (also a Joy Division cover), coming off like maybe a Tennessee Pogues. This two-disc DVD has decent-quality, multi-camera footage from three shows from 2002, 1996, and 2004, including what turned out to be their last, though they didn’t know that at the time; as well as some random tour shots (loading the truck, etc.) and a few minutes from a rehearsal where main-man David Eugene Edwards cracks one of the few smiles of the whole affair. I’d say: essential for completists, recommended for fans, rent it if you have an interest in old (pre-bluegrass) American music and a tolerance for corruption of same. –Cuss Baxter (Alternative Tentacles, PO Box 419092, SF, CA 94141, www.alternativetentacles.com)