Tag Satellite Rides

Satellite Rides wasnt good enough to be named one of Dallas Observer Best Area Albums of the ’00 list, but it did make Rolling Stone, The Decade’s Best Under-the-Radar albums.

First up, 2001’s Satellite Rides by the Old 97’s, a Dallas band who turn out crafty pop-rock songs rooted in the Byrds and old AM radio hits. Frontman Rhett Miller sings about the vagaries of love earnestly and intelligently on this turning-point LP, and on “Rollerskate Skinny” he offers the thesis “I believe in love, but it don’t believe in me.”

Texas Music magazine also named Satellite Rides to its list of Best Albums of The Decade list.

~michael

4 nights 96 songs

December 31, 2009

Well, the boys’ four-night stand at Sons of Hermann Hall is in the books — and in the can, as the entire shindig was recorded. Cross your fingers that it will see the light of day. I was only able to attend night two, but I can attest that they were on fire, and the rarities just added to the fun.

You can read a couple of good reviews at The Dallas Observer and at Pegasus News.

And for your reading pleasure, here are the setlists from all four nights:

NIGHT ONE
Bird in a Cage
504
Streets of Where I’m From
My Two Feet
Crash on the Barrelhead
You Belong To My Heart
The New Kid
Barrier Reef
Friends Forever
Old Familiar Steam
Busted Afternoon
I Will Remain
Iron Road
Stoned
King of the World
Miss Molly
The Easy Way
————
Champaign, Illinois – Ranchero Brothers
Harold’s Super Service – Ranchero Brothers
Bel Air
Ride
Curtain Calls
Timebomb

NIGHT TWO
Niteclub
Jagged
Here’s to the Halcyon
Weightless
Let the Train Blow the Whistle
Moonlight
Victora
Murder (or a Heart Attack)
If My Heart Was a Car
Alone So Far
She Loves the Sunset
Buick City Complex
Can’t Get a Line
St. Ignatius
Indefinitely
Am I Too Late
Big Brown Eyes
—————–
Daybed – Ranchero Brothers
In the Satellite Rides a Star – Ranchero Brothers
Five Years (David Bowie cover)
Dressing Room Walls
Nineteen
Timebomb

NIGHT THREE
The Fool
Just Like California
Book of Poems
Making Love to You
W. TX Teardrops
Dancing With Tears in My Eyes
Lonely Holiday
Early Morning
Melt Show
Valium Waltz
The Other Shoe
Let the Idiot Speak
Color of a Lonely Heart Is Blue
Question
Designs on You
The One
Four Leaf Clover
—————-
Sweet Thing Pine Bluff – Ranchero Brothers
Lost at Sea – Ranchero Brothers
Tupelo County Jail (Webb Pierce cover)
Salome
W.I.F.E.
Timebomb

NIGHT FOUR
Won’t Be Home
Dance With Me
Over the Cliff
Adelaide
Up the Devil’s Pay
Bloomington
Desperate Times
The Villain
What We Talk About
Eyes For You
Wish the Worst
Valentine
No Baby I
What I Wouldn’t Do
Blinding Sheets of Rain
Oppenheimer
Smokers
The House That Used To Be
Drowning in the Days
Rollerskate Skinny
Doreen
———————-
Visiting hours – Ranchero Brothers
Mama Tried – Ranchero Brothers
Coahuila
Broadway
Goin’, Goin’ Gone
Nervous Guy
Timebomb
———————
Cryin’ Drunk
Jack

That, my friends, was one for the ages.

-jefe

We’ve heard from Rhett and Ken on the as-yet-unnamed new Old 97’s album. So how about Murry? First, a direct quote:

We’re all jazzed about this one. Ken is truly a guitar god this round. No joke. And I’m thrilled with it. It gets punchy the way Too Far was, but with the stylistic stretching of Fight Songs and Satellite Rides. The song pile is a good one — I’d call it a rare pile. Overall, I bet people will agree that it is the most adventuresome yet of all our albums. But it still sounds like us.

Sounds good to me. He also reveals that there will be two “Murry songs” on this one: The Beautiful Thing and Color of a Lonely Heart is Blue. Regarding the latter, Murry says “I may be prouder of it than just about any I’ve done so far.”

There’s also one tune Murry and Rhett co-wrote, a “60’s pop ditty” called My Two Feet.

This thing can’t get here soon enough.

-jeff

Excepting his thoughts on “Smokers,” this is hands down my favorite review of Drag It Up so far.


No Depression – July/August 2004

Dancing Like Nobody’s Watching

Old 97’s

Drag It Up

New West

By Peter Blackstock

Of the half-dozen records the Old 97’s have made over the past decade, “Drag It Up is our most personal,” guitarist Ken Bethea writes in a brief band biography that accompanied press mailings of the group’s new disc. He’s right on target in his assessment; that much is obvious simply from the inclusion of “Coahuila,” which features a lead vocal from Bethea – his first-ever in the band’s recorded output.

“Coahuila” is a goofy, almost amateurish little ditty, kicking off with the outlandishly mundane lyric, “I turn my microwave on and I cook my chicken ravioli.” It’s the kind of number that, in the height of the band’s brass-ring pursuits during their major-label days with Elektra Records, would’ve been laughed right out of the boardroom.

And yet, there’s something effortlessly, infectiously fun about the track. As Bethea warbles along, only occasionally on-key, about a little brown-haired border girl, with drummer Philip Peeples’ Tex-Mex rhythm bouncing along for the ride, it’s hard not to just…smile. This is the sound of a band that doesn’t have to try so hard anymore, and is content to simply be themselves.

Drag It Up is also very much the sound of the Old 97’s as established many moons ago, Bethea’s surprise vocal turn notwithstanding. Much of the album is vintage 97’s; when Bethea’s big fat guitar twang introduces the album’s first song (“Won’t Be Home No More”) and charges straight into Peeples’ chucka-chucka trainbeat, we’re right back on the same track that sent us such staples as “Victoria” and “House That Used to Be.”

Similarly reassuring to the band’s longtime fan base are such songs as “The New Kid,” a midtempo rocker built on carefully clever word play (“He’s got the goods, but he’s no good for his word”), and “Friends Forever,” a rapid-fire pop anthem in the vein of “Let The Idiot Speak” that champions those cast aside from the high school “in” crowd (“went out for the football team / Found out the hard way you can’t live your dad’s dream”).

But the 97’s also show themselves to be much more at ease with expressing subtler sentiments. In their late-90’s heyday, it sometimes seemed a struggle for them to balance their gift for gorgeous melody with their gravitation toward restless energy; too often the surging intensity steamrolled the precious beauty of their material.

On Drag It Up, it doesn’t appear to have bothered them that at least half the record is subdued in tone and tempo. If the overall result isn’t quite as rawk, well, the sound suits the songs, and that makes all the difference.

Some of this shift may be partly attributable to frontman Rhett Miller’s recent stab at a solo career. Though his 2002 disc The Instigator wasn’t any kind of commercial breakthrough, it did underline his talent as a pop tunesmith, and that facet of his artistry seems to have been encouraged here. “Moonlight,” “Blinding Sheets of Rain,” and “Adelaide” are prime examples; they’re instantly catchy numbers that don’t even try to rock, because they don’t need to. Instead, the band lends just the right light touch behind Miller’s sweetly engaging croon, letting the tune carry the day.

In a somewhat different vein is “Valium Waltz,” which finds the 97’s turning ever so slightly in a psychedelic direction. On the one hand, it’s a simple three-quarter-time ballad about “the daughter of the mayor of Marble Falls,” but rather than play it straight, they’ve twisted the tone toward the tripped-out drag of the substance in the song’s title. This is new territory for the 97’s, and suggests they’re interested not just in revisiting their past, but in reinventing their future.

That becomes even clearer on the following track, “In the Satellite Rides a Star.” Together, the two songs anchor the middle of the record with a mesmerizing spell that brings to mind the melancholy mood-music of Mark Kozelek or Mojave 3 for more than the trusty twang upon which the Old 97’s built their name.

One suspects “In the Satellite Rides a Star” was initially written for the group’s previous album, since that album was titled Satellite Rides. It might not have fit quite right on that disc, which Bethea’s band bio more or less accurately describes as “a bouncy rock and roll record.” But the song is well-suited to the more eclectic and personal persuasion of Drag It Up.

What’s really remarkable about “In the Satellite Rides a Star,” though, is that the lead vocal is delivered not by Miller buy by bassist Murry Hammond. This isn’t particularly unusual at first blush, as Hammond has typically taken a lead turn or two on teach of the group’s albums; he also steps out front here on “Smokers,” a rhythmically intriguing if ultimately forgettable number toward the front of the disc.

But “In the Satellite Rides a Star” is different, because it is, without question, the most affecting and arresting vocal performance on the album. The lyric is elusive, impressionistic: “I got your number, I know who you are / You’re a satellite on the world,” Hammond sings, hinting in the line and others what he’s talking about but never quite coming right out and saying it.

No matter, the spirit of the song is clear when he and Miller sing together in the simple straightforward chorus: “And I feel it slowing down.” We don’t need to understand anymore, we feel it, just as they do.

And y’all remember the Old 97’s free show in NYC’s Rockefeller park last week? Well on account of rain it was moved indoors – moved indoors to the gymnasium of lower Manhattan’s Stuyvesant High School. Talk about a talent show! Here’s a review that appeared on AOL’s Digital City: (Who wrote it? I don’t know! If you know, let me know. Now 😉


Thursday, July 15, 2004

6:37:56 PM EDT

What’s So Good About a Good Time?

Sometimes you love a band for many years and then they screw it up for you. They could do this by recording solo projects, turning left when they shoulda turned right, going commercial, playing infrequent tours. Conversely, you can let them down. You can stop playing their songs when you come home from work in a semi-lucid state, craving real emotion and things made by hand instead of machine. You foresake your heroes for the new Franz Ferdinand, who used to be the new Yeah Yeah Yeahs or the new White Stripes or the new Shins. You worry that maybe songs about burning nightclubs and serial ladykillers are good at 26 but maybe now it’s time to listen to Norah Jones or Aimee Mann (No).

I have done all of these things to my dear Old 97’s, and they have done the same to me. But after last night, it’s all good. After a looming thunderstorm — we should know, after all, that “insurgent country” in NYC is always greeted by Mother Nature’s fury — caused their free show to be moved from Rockefeller Park to Stuyvesant High School’s auditorium, no one was sure just how grand a comeback it would be. Rhett, Murry, Ken and Phil sauntered out, peering out from scalding hot stage lights at a packed house. Everyone was sitting, reluctant and regressing into student mode by sheer virtue of being seated in a folding chair and lectured by the event organizer, who told us, “This area in front of the stage is not a mosh pit.” The crowd snickered.

The band plowed into ‘Rollerskate Skinny,’ then delved further back into its wild-eyed twang-punk days (‘Time Bomb,’ ‘Four Leaf Clover,’ ‘Doreen,’ ‘Victoria,’ ‘Barrier Reef,’ ‘If My Heart Was a Car’), interspersing thoughtful tracks from its forthcoming album, ‘Drag It Up.’ The guitarist, Ken, remarked that this whole thing was sort of unsettling, that it was like his worst nightmare in high school come true to play on a school stage in front of a crowd. “Yes, but this time you’re wearing pants,” Rhett shot back. By the end of an hour-plus set, everyone was dancing in the aisles, on the orchestra pit, in the rows. The band collectively broke about 5 strings trying to please us, then came back for an encore. And when I came outside into the oddly chilly Tribeca night, I felt raw again. Thanks, guys.

Your Old 97’s reading this week also includes this feature from the Houston Chronicle, and this from the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Finally, for those of you who want extra credit, here’s some deeper reading. First up is Rhett on fatherhood, and then a long and thoughtful interview with Murry Hammond on faith, forgiveness, and Christianity. More soon!

OK kids, here’s your track listing for Drag It Up:

1. Won’t Be Home

2. Moonlight

3. Borrowed Bride

4. Smokers

5. Coahuila

6. Blinding Sheets of Rain

7. Valium Waltz

8. In The Satellite Rides A Star

9. The New Kid

10. Bloomington

11. Adelaide

12. Friends Forever

13. No Mother

Old 97’s Drag It Up

Release date: July 27, 2004

by Ken Bethea, lead guitarist

11 years in, I still can’t quite believe what I’ve been doing with my life.

We just finished recording our sixth album, Drag It Up. It’s the first for our new label, New West Records. After tinkering with our limits on the previous five releases, I think we’ve settled in with what we do best on Drag It Up – solid writing and performances, with enough bells and whistles to make things interesting. It reminds me of our earlier recordings, we mix bluegrass, surf, country, rock, folk and some good old-fashioned psychedelia.

We started the recording on a frozen February day in Woodstock, N.Y. at Dreamland Studios, a 19th century country church, full of stained glass and ghosts. We finished up in sunny San Diego at producer Mark Neill’s vintage studio, four of us stomping, screaming and picking guitars into one microphone. Mark is a hard-core recording traditionalist, far removed from today’s digital world. After working with modern technology on our previous three studio trips, we found old school 8-track recording both refreshing and challenging.

During the course of the project, we broke a $6000.00 microphone and my poor old classical guitar. We ate New York barbecue twice and would go back again. I played guitar with a pencil and both Rhett and I tried to play some bass (we failed). We stood in a giant echo-ey church and stared at each other. We stood in a tiny 8×8 room and stared at each other. We sang about satellites, stars, moonlight, cavities, death, cheating, Texas, friendship, parenthood, God and storms.

I think we’re finally mature enough to trust the machine that is now our band. Case in point: “Valium Waltz” – Rhett wrote the first version of this song around 1995 and we’ve tried for years to make it work for us. We had always approached it (perhaps due to its lyrical content) as a Texas-songwriter-tune, a la Robert Earl Keen or Lyle Lovett. Excellent artists, but not exactly our style. It never fell into its pocket until this past January in a Cleveland nightclub. We had gotten to the club early and were rehearsing some of the songs and Murry suggested trying “Valium” (the song). We just relaxed and played the damn thing. It sounded moody and psychedelic and wonderful and that’s pretty much the version you’ll hear on Drag It Up.

“The New Kid” is another excellent example of the way our band works. We didn’t gig much after wrapping up Satellite Rides. After years of relentless touring and recording, we decided to take a breather. When we got back together in Dallas in mid-2003 for a show at our favorite old haunt, The Sons Of Hermann Hall, we had a lot of catching up to do. As always Murry and Rhett sat down and swapped songs. Just before we had to run upstairs and go on-stage, Murry said to Rhett, “I’ve got this one song with a great melody, but I’ve only got the first line of lyrics: ‘The new kid he’s got money/ the money I deserve…’ Do you want to take a shot at it?” Rhett got that old gleam in his eye (he loves a challenge). A couple of days later he called Murry and played it for him over the phone. “Man you nailed it,” Murry said. Of course, I couldn’t leave well enough alone. I made them let me write an instrumental section and “BAM!”, a song was born. We hadn’t missed a beat.

It’s hard not to compare an album with those that came before it. Drag It Up is our most personal. We recorded it on 8 tracks, which pretty much means there was very little studio trickery. What you’ll hear, or maybe I should say, what you won’t hear is second-guessing, sleight of hand or revisionist thinking. Whereas Too Far To Care was an idealistic album made for big cars and air guitars, Drag It Up is better served by thinking and driving on Sunday afternoons in the middle of nowhere. Fight Songs was urban, hitchhike to rhome was a giant demo and Satellite Rides was hitchhike’s opposite, that is to say, for us (four hacks from Texas) a wonderful recording of near-perfect performances. Wreck Your Life was the spiritual predecessor to Drag It Up – punk rock recorded over the course of a few days in a Chicago attic. We have grown – albeit kicking and screaming – into a complex, philosophical and mortal band. I feel good about what we’ve done. It’s our brains, our breath, our fingers, our soul.

I hope you like Drag It Up.

A bit of history: Rhett Miller, Murry Hammond, Philip Peeples and I started the Old 97’s in 1993. Everyone we knew was either in a grunge band or looking to start one. I remember talking music philosophy with Rhett and Murry and we wanted to somehow tie together the music of Elvis Costello, Hank Williams, X, The Clash, Johnny Cash, David Bowie and Camper Van Beethoven. We played small country and rock bars in Dallas, usually for tips, beer and the occasional barbecue sandwich.

Though we played a lot – two sets a night, sometimes four nights a week – nothing really felt like it was moving. Then in early 1994, a fan that had a small record label called Big Iron offered to give us $3,000 to record a CD. We recorded hitchhike to rhome over the course of three rainy days in May. To our shock, it changed everything. Until that point, we had never sold a club out. Never packed `em in. Never looked out over the faces and seen the crowd singing along to every word. Suddenly that was happening, not only in our home state, but in Chicago and in St. Louis and everywhere our desperate little Dodge (Vanna White) would carry us. I remember the sense of validation it gave me. It told me that what we were doing was right. We just needed to keep plugging away.

We hooked up with a Chicago label, Bloodshot Records, in 1995 and released our second CD, Wreck Your Life. It was less comprehensive than hitchhike, more meat and potatoes. Our fans seemed to like it and we began to build a national fan base. We toured around the country, sleeping on floors and living hand-to-mouth all of ’95 and early ’96. That spring, during our showcase at South By Southwest, Austin’s big music industry conference, we knocked the ball out of the park. Suddenly all the majors wanted a piece of the action, and we couldn’t buy a meal in NY or LA.

We signed with Elektra and, the following year, released Too Far To Care, our ode to what used to be called country rock and is now called alternative country. It was the type of high octane CD we had always wanted to make. We followed Too Far with Fight Songs in 1999 and Satellite Rides in 2001, both featured songs that got quite a bit of airplay and sold well. On Fight Songs we began tinkering with the format again by making things more poppy – although lyrically it was our darkest album. On Satellite Rides we experimented with a ’60’s vibe (we have some BIG Kinks fans in the band), and wound up with a bouncy rock and roll record.

After ten years of constant work, we took a hiatus. We knew we’d make another record. We just needed, as I said earlier, a breather. Philip and I spent some serious quality time with our little kids (two each, thanks), took our wives out to dinner and started a band called The Scrap Hotel. Murry got married, built a studio in his new home in LA and played beautiful music with his wife Grey DeLisle (Sugar Hill Records). Rhett made his solo record, The Instigator, and moved to upstate New York, where his wife Erica promptly gave birth to Max, the fifth (but probably not the last) Old 97’s baby.

This is a family. Brothers. Friends forever. Rock and rollers.

The Old 97’s album is halfway done! No title yet. Thus far it’s shaping up as a bit of a throwback to Wreck Your Life era content but with a much fuller sound, and less poppy than both Fight Songs and Satellite Rides. And Rhett is playing solo at a bunch of festival dates this Spring and Summer, many supporting P.O.D., and others on what might be described as more-or-less Christian music festival bills. That’s all cool, and in fact shows me that there are still some booking agents out there with eclectic and impeccable musical taste. I just don’t get the lineups, that’s all. Also, to answer the questions I’m starting to get: Yes, “Hit By A Train, ” a.k.a. this website, will be getting a major overhaul to coincide with the release of the upcoming Old 97’s album, thanks for asking!

I’ll have more news word and tour dates posted when I get home.

Rolling Stone has released its year-end “Top 10” and “Best Of The Rest” lists. The 97’s Satellite Rides makes the B.O.T.R. list with other “also rans” like Paul McCartney, Macy Gray, R.E.M., Weezer, New Order and Ryan Adams. Senior R.S. critic David Fricke writes:


Old 97’s

Satellite Rides

Elektra

Old 97’s singer Rhett Miller writes stone-country, lovin’-and-cheatin’ tunes for urban canyon dwellers. The band rocks these songs like a runaway subway train. Born in Dallas, Old 97’s are truly gifted in the Nashville arts. But they were wearing New York plates when they made this baby.

RollingStone.com then posted a more ecumenical “Critics’ Top Albums of 2001,” where the 97’s pop up several more times:


BILL HOLDSHIP

2. The Old 97’s, Satellite Rides (Elektra): Like Wilco, they’ve moved way beyond the limiting alternative country genre to create an album that would have sounded right at home during the glory days of British and New York new wave.

CHRISTINA SARACENO

3. The The Old 97’s, Satellite Rides (Elektra): Alt-country by way of the Lower East Side, Rhett Miller’s melodies and vocals are earnest and urgent and just right.

Finally, R.S. critic Gail Worley chimes in with what may be, for the Old 97’s, the best endorsement ever:


GAIL WORLEY

7. The Old 97’s, Satellite Rides (Elektra): Because their fans are violent maniacs!

Happy New Year y’all! See you at the shows.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’m sorry about the long delay in new news on the Old 97’s. But since it’s been a while, there’s plenty to report. In this edition: New records, new photos, new shows, new wives, new suits, new Rancheros, and… an alien invasion? Let’s hit the pics first.

The Old 97’s flew home from to Texas after their July 18 Tonight Show performance, and put on some scorching summer shows in Dallas, Austin, and Houston. Many many cameras were in attendance and the resulting photos have turned up all over the web. The URL’s?

http://members.home.net/twobluefish

http://www.evilrose.net/gallery/old97s

http://www.eville.net/old97s/

http://members.tripod.com/~olp3eb/

http://geocities.com/mydalliance/

Speaking of pics, one Rhett Miller goes noticeably upscale, in a fashion shoot on page 108 of the new Rolling Stone (the “HOT” issue – R.S. 108), dressed in ahem… Prada and Hugo Boss.

And what’s up with the Ranchero Brothers? (For the uninitiated, the Rancheros are Rhett Miller and Murry Hammond in an acoustic, Everley-ish alter-ego of the Old 97’s.) The long-running saga of the Rancheros’ debut album continues. Though recorded in early 2000, the album’s producer Hammond had a chance to mix just a handful of the eighteen tracks recorded by the duo. Among those is “In The Satellite Rides A Star,” the namesake to Satellite Rides. (Check out the “Sounds” page for an extended excerpt). The remainder sit unmixed on the hard drive of an ailing computer. What will it take to get the album finished? How about a software update, days of uninterrupted days of attention from their producer, and according to one unconfirmed report, the possible addition of one or more new and yet-to-be-recorded “up” tracks. Plans have always been for the Ranchero record to debut after the commotion surrounding Satellite Rides has settled down a bit. This would all seem to point toward a Spring 2002 release. But that’s only a guess.

Mainly, Murry’s got to have some free time to get it finished, and free time is something he simply hasn’t had for over a year. First there’s been the rehearsal for and recording of Satellite Rides. Then the touring. Plus the courting. Oh yeah, did I mention that Mr. Hammond is getting married? He is, and recent live shows have seen the dedication of both “Question” and “W-I-F-E” to the newly engaged bassist. Still, the Rancheros played an unannounced gig, their fist since November, at a recent Largo show in L.A. which had been advertised as a Rhett Miller solo show, and they hit the Largo stage again on August 23. Never seen a Ranchero Brothers show? You need to go, as a Ranchero show resurrects the lost art of the hootenanny.

So lots of bands have dedicated fans. But how many bands have fans who’s actions might ignite rumors of a (musically tasteful) alien invasion, or confound the spy satellites of a hostile power? See, just west of the intersection of I-295 and I-95 in Trenton, New Jersey, large mysterious hieroglyphics have recently materialized, apparently carved into the tall native grasses of the Robeling Memorial and Delaware Raritan Canal State Parks. From the ground, they appear innocent. But from the air, it’s obvious that someone, somehow, has mowed out giant letters which read: OLD 97’S. Who did it? One heavy equipment operator and Old 97’s fan Mark Layton. Now, we need someone to get up there and get a picture! Volunteers?

So how’s the 97’s current (7/31 – 8/12) gig as the opening band on the Matchbox 20 – Train – Old 97’s arena dates? Rhett Miller reported on that 7/31 chat that early shows have seen an excellent 10,000 or so folks in their seats for the 97’s, with some fine crowd reaction to the band. Last evening’s show in Toronto apparently saw a smaller and more laid-back crowd for the 97’s set. Kieran Grant, music critic for the Toronto Sun wrote this:


But it was Dallas, Texas, openers Old 97’s who were the most interesting band of the night with their bright, unbridled, wildly sentimental post-country-punk. As the cruel realities of this rock game so often seem to dictate, played to a politely indifferent reception.

The Toronto Star added:


By contrast, the Texas quartet Old 97’s launched the night with a short but blissful set of hard-driving, straight-ahead rock and roll that featured blistering renditions of “King Of All Of The World” and “Up The Devil’s Pay” from this year’s Satellite Rides disc.

Singer Rhett Miller expressed the band’s gratitude for being asked to open the show. But on a bill with Matchbox Twenty and Train, the Old 97’s looked like renegades showing up for the prom in jeans and a T-shirt. And bless them for that.

The last bit of news for today? Well when the Old 97’s signed to Elektra back in ’96, it was a three album deal, with Elektra having an option for two additional albums. Satellite Rides is the Old’s third Elektra release. So now what? Happily, it seems that despite some recent turmoil at the Warner music labels (Wilco having recently been dropped by Warner’s Reprise label) the good folks at Elektra retain their faith in good music and a little band from Texas, as Rhett Miller announced in a 7/31 on-line chat that Elektra has picked up their option for another two albums from the Old 97’s. Right on, right on!

The second single off the Old 97’s Satellite Rides will be the sly and lilting “Designs On You.” Elektra begins its push to have radio stations add “Designs” to their playlists on June 18. That means it’s time we kick off Phase II of our “Satellite Rides Sweepstakes,” and start cranking out those calls to our favorite stations too!

To get you primed, check out this big batch of 97’s webanalia. First up are these cuts, recorded live in-studio for the folks at VH1 and MTV:

Designs On You

King Of All The World

Lonely Holiday

In addition Amazon.com has their own exclusive, live acoustic versions of “Indefinitely” and “King Of All The

World,” available for download in the Liquid Audio format at:

http://artist.amazon.com/old97s

And for 24 hours, beginning at 3:00pm EST June 21, the House of Blues (HOB.com) will be webcasting the recent Old 97’s El Lay show. For more info on the June 21st webcast click here.

Also, the Olds are featured at Sonicnet.com as Celebrity DJ’s where they’re spinning some favorite tunes. If you click here for more, you’ll note a playlist that includes the likes of Stereolab and the Stones, The Breeders and REM, Thelonious Monk, Waylon Jennings, and KISS.

Now, if Matchbox Twenty were to supply a playlist, we might safely guess that it would include the Old 97’s, which are “One of our all-time favorite bands… and possibly one of the greatest bands ever.” – Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty. And speaking of MB20, before they take their August spot on the Matchbox Twenty – Train bill, the 97’s remain on the road, in a headline tour which also includes the terrific Josh Joplin Group. Be there!

Finally, several of you asked what happened to the 97’s scheduled June 11 taping on the Late Late Show with Craig Killborn. Apparently the taping schedule was changed, so that the Monday 6/11 Killborn show was being “pre-taped” last Friday, June 8. That meant that your favorite rock band was unable to make it, but will likely be rescheduled to appear at a later date.

…oh, oh, almost forgot: This past Monday, before the Old 97’s taping for HBO’s Reverb, calls are received at the show’s venue, L.A.’s Knitting Factory, from one über-talented performer who is trying to make sure he’ll be able to get in to see the 97’s set. Afterwards, said singer-songwriter is seen backstage visiting one-one-one with the Old’s Rhett Miller. OK, so pulling rank to get on a guestlist or slip backstage ain’t unusual. But what if the performer in question had in the past gone out of his way to blast the Old 97’s, both publicly and privately. Yeah, so maybe 1997’s squabbles are old news, but in a slow week, it was cool to hear the the Old 97’s and Ryan Adams are getting along well these days.