If you look back into the archive of our post, you will find a review of a Texas band called Spoon. In said article, we explored a band that was experimenting with Texas Rock. Today, we are exploring a band that embraces it.
Established in 1994, Old 97’s became a pioneer of the alternative-country rock genre. Though always dazzling in the underground scene, the band never took to the mainstream. Having always enjoying the band’s success, but never the glory of fame, the band frontman, Rhett Miller, often felt the need to leave for solo projects. Despite often losing Miller’s attention to his side career, the band remained together. In fact, even a short hiatus could not keep the group down for long. The band has been a lasting staple of the Texas Rock scene, and in 2014 they released their most recent album, “Most Messed Up”, which is the subject of today’s review.
The band Old 97s has been performing for 20+ years, and got their start in Dallas, Texas. The following images come from their website and rollingstones.com.
Now understand that unpacking this album is not an easy task. The band has layers and layers of influences permeating through the tracks. Perhaps none bigger then the country rock of the late 1950’s going through to the 1960’s. The sounds of the legendary artist like Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash were thought to have gone extinct, in favor of stadium country rock stars. However, the truth of the matter is their roots live on in Texas Rock. “Most Messed Up” carries that steadily constrained kick drum, backed by a rhythmic guitar and relatively hyperactive bass many traditional country fans want. However, layered on top of this rooted rhythm is the makings of the new sound that Old 97’s made significant.
Intertwined with traditional country roots is a blend of punk and pop influences. Songs like “Guadalajara” highlight a pop-alternative feeling, while songs like “Intervention” exhibit a thrashing punk infused twist. After all, this album illustrates what twenty years of working together as a band can produce. The talents of each member showcase themselves throughout the tracks, and no sound seems to dominate the other. On top of the steady rhythms provided by the country sounds, an electric guitar has room to walk out its wailing riffs. Topping this off you have a frontman with a vocal range that can go toe-to-toe with any modern-day singer. Honestly, this band has more range and sound than any group you are likely to hear on today’s radio.
“Most Messed Up” has a little something for everybody. If you want some traditional country rooted music, then listen to “Nashville” or “The Ex Of All You See”. If you want a more punk-leaning alternative mixed sound, then listen to “Longer Than You’ve Been Alive” or “Wheels Off”. If you want a band that is the beginnings of country juiced up with punk influences, then listen to Old 97’s. Frankly, the band just rocks.