Old 97'sThe Grand Theatre Vol. 2 (New West)
When The Grand Theatre Volume One was released last October, the Old 97's promised that they had written and recorded so much strong new material as to necessitate a double-disc set. The music business being what it is, they were encouraged to deliver two separate albums. One problem they faced, and it was a good one to have, was that TGTVO was their strongest effort in years. Happily, Vol. 2 is its equal. True to the Dallas vets' brand of country rock, it's a burst of energy shuffled with rockabilly, power pop, serpentine guitar, and runaway train beats. Main songwriter and singer Rhett Miller cracks his self-deprecating best on "I'm a Trainwreck," while Murry Hammond leads the quartet through the disc's most adventurous track, the sea shanty meets alt.country of "White Port." Guitarist Ken Bethea shoots sparks on instrumental "Marquita." More than 15 years in, the Old 97's remain vital and enthused, making one wish all bands could age with this sort of spunk.
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