Old 97s back to their old selves | VailDaily.com

Old 97s back to their old selves

Daily Staff Report
Special to the Daily

Blame It On Gravity New West Records4 stars of 5Back in the mid-90s, when alt-country bands like Wilco and Son Volt were still flying below many listeners radars, Old 97s was considered one of the genres finest. I guess you could say they still are. Blame It On Gravity is the bands seventh studio album and their first in four years, but it sounds more like early Old 97s than anything theyve put out this entire decade. More country than alt at times (albeit a much heavier form of it), Blame It On Gravity takes the listener back to the sound they won most of their fans over with, and its about time.After a brief solo career, frontman Rhett Miller is back to give vocal clarity to the band, which still consists of all the original members. The Fool, the albums opening track, kicks off with a Who-like riff and then descends into shuffling drums and country-rock chords, boasting lyrics like He came from Phoenix in a borrowed VW/But he was the kid voted most likely not to return/To Phoenix in a borrowed VW/What did he care, tomorrow were all going to burn.And so it goes with Blame It On Gravity. Sharp-witted lyrics and rocking tunes make this a triumphant return to the scene for Old 97s. Charlie Owen, High Life writer

Rabbit Habits Anti4 stars of 5There are a couple of spots on Man Mans Rabbit Habits where you can tell how sickeningly fascinating the bands live set must be.The first one is on The Ballad of Butter Beans, a frantic odyssey of pattered drums and choppy vocals that is about as far away from a ballad as most bands will ever get, and as close to it as Man Man will ever come. Its a relatively easy entry point to Man Mans twisted Danny-Elfman-with-no-Tim-Burton-to-ground-him world, where grown men are supposed to dance like crazies around a piano and force the rest of us to consider what it would be like to be chased through a jungle by a witch doctor wearing Bermuda shorts.This is a band that has opened for Modest Mouse, and early fans of that band likely will hear some of the same elements mostly in leadman Honus Honuss tortured vocals. And, if you take every trace of sanity out of Modest Mouse and added a scatter band horn section, you might get Man Man. But probably not.That makes Rabbit Habits all kinds of bewitching, but doesnt always make it easy to get through. The boys are nice enough to provide a couple of breaks, in Beatles-inspired halftime number Doo Right, and a hefty serving of walkable bass lines in Rabbit Habitss second act.If you can stand repeated plays, its worth the trouble. If not, listen to Modest Mouse. Margaret Hair, Steamboat Pilot & Today

The Ugly Truth Stangefamousrecords3.5 stars of 5 Theres something refreshing about intelligent hip-hop, like a spring breeze gently caressing sunflowers in a dewy meadow. This one here sounds a little more like consumer culture being ripped a new one by one of the best hip-hop collaborations in recent years; its really just a verbal breeze though, placed over some great beats. And thats the genius of it. Hip-hop has always had an underground genre which approves of and in fact insists on being intelligent and these guys are fully immersed in said underground. They take on themes like selling out for fame and money (Survived Another Winter), not particularly positive relationships (Playing with Old Flames) and the cookie-cutter American family (Dick and Jane). And they do it with all kinds of underground wunderkind (Macromantics, Sage Francis, and B. Dolan) and with all kinds of class. How many rap songs throw down lyrics like The shout, proceed/ by feeding their face to obesity weights/ with plates of meats and processed foods that are not healthy but FDA approved and still make it impossible not to bob your head to it? Andrew Fersch, Daily Correspondent

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