Given the state of Meat Puppets several years back, it's no small miracle that the Kirkwood brothers reunited for a year of performances and Rise To Your Knees, an album of new material. Cris Kirkwood's widely publicized problems with drugs and the law all but secured a Meat Puppets future without him.

But now Cris is back with Curt, and the trademark Kirkwood-brother harmonies support each of Rise To Your Knees' 15 lengthy tracks. The ill-advised alternative-rock aspirations of the '90s are absent, as are the boogie missteps that sullied the albums immediately following the classic 1985 album Up On The Sun. Barring two tracks of effects-happy hard rock, Rise To Your Knees is a pleasant collection of downplayed, mid-tempo, gently psychedelic Americana. This could be a successor to Up On The Sun, recalling a time when the Meat Puppets unwittingly pioneered what would become alt-country. It might have had a stronger impact had alt-country never flowered, fallen, and left a branded mark on how listeners currently hear roots-savvy underground rock, but compared to most reunions involving once-seminal bands, Rise To Your Knees stands tall.