By Josef Woodard
Updated November 10, 1995 at 05:00 AM EST

Critics groaned when Uncle Tupelo broke up in 1994; they should’ve rejoiced. So far, the split has yielded two chicken-fried pop surprises — first Jeff Tweedy’s Wilco, now Son Volt. Equal parts twang and thrash, Trace retraces Tupelo’s trademark style — fiddles and banjos rub elbows with stuttering rhythms and Townshendian power chords — but this time frontman Jay Farrar smokes through his tales of Main Street woe with a new fire. Call it hillbilly alchemy: Son Volt turns heartland rust into gold. A