Old 97’s – The Grand Theatre, Volume Two

January 01, 1970

(New
West Records)

 

www.newwestrecords.com

 

Those
who believe the adage that “a sequel is never as good as the original” should
take a listen to the latest release from Old 97’s, The Grand Theatre, Volume Two. In the follow-up to 2010’s The Grand Theatre, Volume One, the band
continues their country rock antics to produce a honky-tonkin’, alternative
rockin’ album with enough gritty musical compositions and bourbon inspired
lyrics to pack a barroom floor  – cowboy
boots, grungy flannels, and all.

 

Lead
vocalist and rhythm guitarist Rhett Miller, bassist Murry Hammond, lead
guitarist Ken Bethea, and drummer Philip Peeples put forth a solid musical
performance in their ninth studio album. Even each song’s title is just as
interesting and catchy as the track itself. In opening tracks “Brown Haired
Daughter” and “I’m A Trainwreck,” complicated relationships and the beginning
stages of heartache are explored through twanging bass lines, comfortably numb
vocals, and sporadic electric guitar riffs that conjure up touches of sadness
with their short, mawkish notes.  In “The
Actor,” Miller’s punk rock-ish lines, like “When I go out/I drink to blackout every
night,” compliment choppy backbeats and screeching, dirty guitar interludes. However,
die-hard New Yorkers should probably skip “Manhattan (I’m Done),” where Miller
sweetly takes a bite out of The Big Apple only to spit it back out.

 

Halfway
through the musical runaway train, lyric-free “Marquita” is one-and-a-half
minutes of turbulence that deserves its own genre, “puntry” (a sweet mishmash
of punk rock and country music). The track’s lightening fast lead guitar and
furious percussion makes it worthy of a few plays on the “repeat” mode. For
those who know what it’s like after having one too many under the unhappiest conditions,
“Visiting Hours” will provide the ultimate country flashback for those drunken man
blues.

 

After
a lot of alcohol-infused lyrics and some semi self loathing songs,  The
Grand Theatre, Volume Two
surprisingly ends on a cheerful note in the
album’s last two tracks, “How Lovely All It Was” and “You Call It Rain.” With
upbeat melodic arrangements and optimistic lyrics set to tender vocals, both
ballads explore the positive side of events despite life’s hurdles.

 

The
album in a nut shell? The Grand Theatre,
Volume Two
is the soundtrack to a chaotic night at the tavern followed by
clarity the morning after – melodiously rowdy, then harmoniously depressed.
(All without the pesky hangover.)

 

DOWNLOAD: “Brown Haired
Daughter,” “The Actor,” “Marquita,” “How Lovely All It Was” CECILIA MARTINEZ

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