So, you want the good news or bad news first? Yeah, me too, give me the bad first every time. So here goes: The new Old 97’s album, rumored for release in February, is now looking to be on store shelves in April. Yeah, I know.

But the good? Well, in recent posting on his MySpace and blogs, Rhett note’s he’s got “Here It Is Christmas Time” streaming, and “Meteor Shower” and “World Inside The World” available as free downloads on his MySpace page. In bigger news, Rhett has this to say about the Old 97’s album:

I have been in the studio with the 97’s for the last three months and we are a couple of weeks away from finishing what promises to be our best album in ten years, if not ever. We are working in Dallas’ Pleasantry Lane Studios with Salim Nourallah producing. Sonically, the album is dense and rich. It rocks as much as anything we have ever done.

I will understand if you are skeptical about the truth of the preceding claims. You have heard a lot of musicians go on about how each album is their best yet (if not THE best yet), but when you finally hear our new record you will remember these words and realize that I was not merely trafficking in hyperbole for the sake of hype. This record has me jazzed.

And you know what? I don’t remember Rhett ever talking like that about how good an upcoming album will be.

If he’s jazzed, well so am I. Intrigued too, and ready for April. But first things first: Here’s wishing y’all a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Safe and Peaceful New Year! – frank