Archive for 2008

Biog on nprs atc

August 20, 2008

If you’re driving home today, don’t miss Robert Christgau’s review of Blame It On Gravity on today’s All Things Considered, on your local NPR station. Of course if you’re reading this, you’d better not be driving anywhere, though you can also listen here. The short recap: “They’ve just put out their best album in seven years. Blame It On Gravity is noticeably more taut and focused than their earlier albums — more delicate, too.” It was Christgau, the “Dean of American Rock Critics,” who wrote those great liner notes for the 2006 best-of comp, Hit By A Train: The Best of Old 97’s, and if those notes, in their looking back, reflected his uncertainty on the future of the band, today’s review does not.

In other news, Murry continue to garner great press and notices for his new release I Don’t Know Where I’m Going But I’m On My Way.

And finally, that October 24 Old 97’s bill with R.E.M. marks R.E.M.’s first show back in the US after a months-long European swing in support of Accelerate and tickets go on sale this Friday, August 22 at 10am ET. Be there or… miss my all-time fantasy bill of music! – frank

Y’all remember the Satellite Riders, doncha? These guys are, hands down, the finest Old 97’s tribute band in America. Heck, they may be the only Old 97’s tribute band in America.

The Riders have been playing, under a number of names, mainly around North Texas for nearly as long as the Old 97’s, but laying low since May 2003, when they blew the roof off Dallas’ Sons of Hermann Hall.

But now these four old buds from Mineral Wells, Texas, are back, and they’re hitting the road, heading to Seattle for an 8/31 show at the intimate Tractor Tavern. They’re calling it their “’68 Comeback Special,” and if you’ve ever seen the Riders live, you know they not only look a bit like Ken, Murry, Rhett, and Philip, more importantly, these guys belt out an Old 97’s show like no one else, save the 97’s themselves. As their website says:

If you always wondered what it like to see the Old 97’s in their Bloodshot (or Big Iron) days, before fame and fortune, and music promoters whisked them into the bigtime, well here’s your chance!

Back to the 97’s; outside of their solo works, y’all are probably already familiar with the other Old 97’s side projects, including the Ranchero Brothers (Murry & Rhett), The Scrap Hotel (Ken & Philip), and the West Texas Teardrops (Ken, Murry, and Philip). But now the West Texas Teardrops have their own side project, one that allows them to more fully explore their “icy vision of the future.” Calling themselves Dadist Dream Believer, the guys recorded their own self-released CD during the recent 97’s hiatus, entitled Ba Be Bi Ba Boop. Taking their cue from the icy, early German techno pioneers like Kraftwerk, Einstürzende Neubauten, and Trio; Philip, Ken, and Murry even took time to self-produce a video, and the folks at Spinner.com have all the goods.

And speaking of videos, Rhett recently sat down and recorded not just a theme-song for blogger Oscar Wednesday, but also left The O.W. with a lovely kitchen-table video for “Bonfire” and, if you scroll down to the June 25th entry, for “No Baby I” as well. Then, sandwiched in between are “11 Questions with Murry Hammond.” Not bad Señor Miércoles, not bad at all.

Apropos of almost nothing, Washington DC loves it some Old 97’s. Seriously. But those NY, NY papers still seem somewhat confused. While a lovely NY Times review of BIOG correctly lists Dallas as the band’s hometown, their concert listing names Austin. Meanwhile, the NY Post, in a review of CUIL, a new search engine competitor to Google, seems mystified that the top result for the term “A Train” (ahem 😉 leads to a, “site for a band called Old 97’s, which brags about its VH-1 fame.” Parochial, are we?

Not parochial is Terry Gross of NPR’s Fresh Air, and her July 17 interview with Rhett is one of the best of its sort you’ll ever hear. Don’t miss it!

Also, don’t miss the Tour Dates page where we’ve got most of the next leg of the Blame It On Gravity tour posted, along with several new Murry Hammond and Rhett Miller tour dates, with more to come soon! Also up we’ve got some great new reviews of other recent 97’s shows here, here, here, and a bunch-o-new BIOG reviews and features on the HBAT “Gravity” page.

I think that’s all for now. Murry’s promised to forward three additional solo show-dates, and you know we’ll have more soon. So check back and Cheers! – frank

Of course y’all know the Dance With Me vid’s been up on the VH1/EmptyVee oligopoly’s playlists for a couple of weeks now, and for an indie release, that is rare. But of course, we could help kick them up in rotation a bit too. So why not take a minute to plug ’em on the VH1 Top 20 Video Countdown poll? If you don’t see the title you can write it in. It’s easy and who knows? Your vote might be the one that gets the band out to one more lost soul. And while you’re at it, here’s still more behind-the-scenes clips from the Dance With Me video shoot. After that, you gotta see the long-lost, thanks-to-a-major-label-mess, video for the amazing “Fireflies,” with Rachel Yamagata, from Rhett’s “The Believer.” Damn, that’s a fine song.

And whaddya mean you haven’t seen that great video podcast the guys shot for Spinner.com? Git yer rear end over the and get it, because it smokes so hard – “Early Morning” especially – that the EPA is gonna ban that thing! Write the wisenheimers at Rolling Stone: “Old 97s drop by the AOL Spinner studio with a sheaf of new songs and a couple of new nuggets. Whole room melts in the face of Rhett Miller’s overpowering hotness.” Uhm, that’s what they said, OK? And here’s still another great in-studio performance, this one cut in Austin during release-week at the studios of Texas Music Matters on KUT.

Also, an old flame of Ken Bethea (don’t ask 😉 reports that Rhett Miller last week sat down for an interview with Terry Gross for upcoming episode of NPR’s Fresh Air, so stay tuned for that as well.

In addition, the 97’s have confirmed they’ll be returning to the 504 area code, October 24 – 26, for the tenth annual Voodoo Experience in the Big Easy, joining a huge bill featuring the likes of R.E.M., Death Cab, Panic At the Disco, and Sharon Jones. Check out the Tour Dates page for several new show and in-store listings for the Old 97’s, Rhett Miller, and a Murry Hammond date in Chicago. (Part of a Murry-tour?)

As for yer web-side grab-bag, Here’s 20 questions for Rhett Miller from a Virginia paper, while a Milwaukee TV reporter finally finds out “What’s the deal with Rhett’s metal tooth?” Plus great reviews from a reporter at a Vancouver show, and a newbie in Seattle. The common thread? Dancing. It something I’ll never forget seeing either, amongst the crowd at my first Old 97’s show back in ’94. Sometimes you just can’t help it. Dancing, I mean. Finally, the 97’s snagged the cover story in an exceptionally fine piece in the new edition of Texas Music magazine. Check out the link, but if you’re in these parts, please head down to your local bookstore and snag a copy too. There’s too many music mags biting the dust these days, and Texas Music is one I’d like to keep around.

Plus, on top of the new CD’s from the Murry and the 97’s, one of my favorite new discs of the year is, Getting to the Point Is Beside It, the new one from I Love Math, featuring John Dufilho, Jason Garner, Philip Peeples, and Andy Lester. Of course ILM’s been out on tour with the 97’s, but even if you haven’t caught them live, at least be sure to check out the album. The thing is getting raves, among them this from the folks at CMJ:

Since I Love Math does feature members of Old 97’s, Deathray Davies, the Paper Chase and Apples In Stereo… Imagine those bands’ most sunny pop moments, but now imagine them as if they’d been recorded like they’re trying to sneak in the session in a basement so as not to wake up the wife and kids upstairs. It’s got that post-party years vibe to it, but maybe not if the party is a fine, friendly, September sun-setting, back porch, mid-priced Vintner’s Blend-tipping get-together.

It’s just great great music for kick back days, and if you haven’t heard it yet, you’re missing out.

Finally and maybe best of all, it seems Murry’s I Don’t Know Where I’m Going But I’m On My Way is going to get a proper national release! And a good thing too. Who except the most cynical hipster can’t love it when others come to love music you love too? – frank

First up, thanks to Michael, Jefe, and Jennifer for keeping the lights on around here while I’ve been busy with family, work, and vacation. Next up, if you’re in Texas or hereabouts (and really, why wouldn’t anyone at least be thinking about being here? 😉 why not head down to your local indie bookstore and pick up a new copy of Texas Music, whose cover is graced by you-know-who. The Dallas Observer, on their terrific DC9 at Night music blog, notes that Blame It On Gravity is now the Old 97’s highest charting album ever, on track to become their best-selling ever, and is still comfortably ensconced in the Top 40 of Billboard’s Indie Albums chart.

Not bad after fifteen years, eh?

Also, as Michael mentioned, while VH1 and other MTV networks have picked up the video for “Dance With Me,” some fans (read: “me”) have wondered about the decision to show so little of… well… the Old 97’s. Never fear, it seems the guys are down with that call; and seeing as how this will easily be their most-watched video ever, it would seem that call was OK, it not definitely the best one.

Finally, having missed every chance at catching the guys since this past NYE in Dallas, I will be at the Atlanta show on 7/22. Seeing as how I report to work in ATL on the 23rd. Anyhow, anyone out there who’ll be making that show, and who could use a frosty adult beverage in the process, please gimme a shout off-line. More soon, I promise. – frank

Isnt the new video for “Dance With Me” awesome? Now you can help out the band by voting for the new video on MySpace. The video for “Dance With Me” will be featured on the MySpace TV homepage starting today for 5 days. It will be in the “More Featured Videos” section. Please vote “BOOYA” for the 97’s new video. This is actually a really huge placement, especially having it for 5 days. If you look at the other videos featured today they have anywhere from 6,000 to 98,000 plays.

Old 97’s are performing live Wednesday, June 18th at 6 p.m. PST at Amoeba in Hollywood for a free in-store event. This will also be streamed LIVE for all who are not in LA.

~michael