Blame It on Gravity
The Old 97’s have always been more like the rowdier younger brothers to “alt-country” contemporaries like Wilco and Ryan Adams, save for their last studio record (2004’s Drag It Up) which lacked some of that old piss and vinegar. For Blame It on Gravity the 97’s returned to the big D—where it all started almost two decades ago—to rediscover the reckless abandon epitomized by records like Wreck Your Life and Too Far to Care. They come close. Gravity essentially plays like two records, with the first half showcasing guitarist/ vocalist Rhett Miller’s proclivity for Brit-pop on “No Baby I” and “My Two Feet.” It’s not until song eight (or side two on the vinyl release) that the band eases into the cow-punk of yore with “I Will Remain,” a tale of a love-struck stalker who confesses, “I wonder why I’m so all alone while I’m so close to you.” “The Easy Way” and “Here’s to the Halcyon” are the standouts, and capture the band’s knack for combining Replacements rawk and Cash twang with Miller’s bookish wordplay. Fortunately, even the poppiest numbers are beautifully sullied throughout by guitarist Ken Bethea, whose riffs are as thick and juicy as a Texas T-bone.