September 3rd, 2008 JAY HORTON | Special Section Stories
 

Old 97s

Midnight Wednesday, Berbati’s

     
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[SOUTHERN INVASION] In the 15 years since the Old 97s’ debut screeched out of Texas, a lot has changed, both inside the alt-country firmament and for the Old 97s themselves. Initially beloved for blending punk energy into the twang-’n’-spurs blueprint, successive albums saw a new appreciation for West Coast harmonies and British Invasion flourishes within frontman Rhett Miller’s songwriting. The band recently took a lengthy hiatus as Miller concentrated on his solo projects (you’ll remember the Chili’s baby-back ribs commercial), but the boys returned last year to their old Dallas stomping grounds to record Blame It on Gravity—an assured, masterful saunter through Byrds instrumentation and Kinks sensibilities. Even as the No Depression banner fades from view, the evolving sound of the Old 97s demands relevance. It’s just that, at this point, it’s hard to tell where the country stops and the pop begins.

 
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