Sunday, 26 December 2010

A Grand Old Sound: Stumbling Across the Old 97's

This week between Christmas is a great time to sift through past music, be it a release you missed during the last 12 months or a band you've been meaning to listen to for many previous years. With few releases slated until mid January and disposable Christmas income/gift certificates burning a hole in the pocket, exploratory listening can easily come to the fore.

For exactly this reason I can now say I'm familiar with the newest music of alt-country chaps the Old 97's, a Texas band that have been operating for almost two decades now,  in some form or another.

For all their history, though, the band have recent output that has bothered some 2010 end of year lists. Such is the delight of perusing many other blogs, in that one can take in the best of their music taste every year in one or two simple posts. The album The Grand Theater Vol. One is an atmospheric, heavily Western-influenced set of songs with a particularly strong identity for a genre that can on occasion sound rather contrived.

MP3: Old 97's - The Grand Theatre
Taken from the album The Grand Theater Vol. One, 
available now on amazonmp3 for $5.

On the first few spins, this is a solid album with an engrossing blend of traditional country rock and the less tangible, darker side of the genre, currently being employed by bands like Murder by Death, channeling the ever present spirit of Sir Johnny Cash. However you'd care to describe it, there is a depth to the songs that certainly pulls one in and encourages a closer listen. 

As the title hints, there will be a second volume of this song group and the release date appears to be as early as next spring, making this post as much a 2011 preview as it is a 2010 retrospective. This time around, I'll be well prepared for their arrival. You can too by picking up this new one on the cheap and/or delving into their archive of freebies here.

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