Old 97's - Fight Songs
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Fight Songs (Elektra, 1999)

Old 97's

Reviewed by James Mann

The latest in a line of twangsters who have broadened their sound into the pop arena (i.e., Wilco, Joe Pernice), the Old 97's have forged a pretty good middle ground between the "Cowboy Clash" of their past and a more radio-friendly pop sound.

True, there's no "Time Bomb" here, and the record is less for the loss of that type of song, but Rhett Miller's twisted lyrics and melodic sense are intact. From the bouncy pop of "Oppenheimer" to the direct Neil Young "Rust" period cop of "Jagged," this is a fun record.

Featuring the steel guitar of the Grievous Angels' Jon Ranhouse on several cuts, the music retains the 97's Texas feel (check out "Alone So Far"), while moving a little closer to the mainstream. "Crash on the Barrelhead" is true to the spirit of its namesake, but songs like "Murder (Or a Heart Attack)" come off as grasping, transparent stabs at Matchbox 20 - land, not a place fans would like to find the Old 97's.

CDs by Old 97's

Twelfth, 2020 Love the Holidays, 2018 Graveyard Whistle, 2017 Hitchhike to Rhome: 20th Anniversary Reissue, 2014 The Grand Theatre Volume One, 2010 Wreck Your Life ...And Then Some: The Complete Bloodshot Recordings [Limited Edition], 2009 Blame It On Gravity, 2008 Hit By A Train: The Best Of Old 97's, 2006

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