Sex, drugs and rock n’ roll are the constant theme on the newest studio album from beloved country alt-rockers Old 97’s. Most Messed Up is chock full of sarcasm, satire and fantastic stories, weaving together a kind of rock and roll quilt of all the fun they’ve had in their lengthy and seemingly never-ending career as a band.
Twenty years in, they start this record off with the audacious and cheeky “Longer Than You’ve Been Alive”. “We’ve been doin’ this longer than you’ve been alive/propelled by some mysterious drive…we’ve been in nightclubs and we’ve been in bars/honkytonks and theaters from Memphis to Mars,” front man and notorious heartthrob Rhett Miller sings, regaling us with little snippets of the various array of shows, cities and venues of their storied career. “Most of our shows were a triumph of rock/although some nights I might have been checking the clock,” he tells us honestly, and we know we’re in for quite a ride with this album.
Full of honest tales of both the grit and the glam sides of being rock stars, Old 97’s have put together a bold and humorous collection of tunes that chronicle all aspects of what it’s like to be in a band for more than two decades. “Wasted”, “Let’s Get Drunk and Get it On” and “Intervention” are all at once hilarious and dark takes on hitting the bottle. Drunk sex, avoiding working for the man, and confronting a friend about his bad habits are just a few of the experiences vividly told in these tracks, and they feel just as fresh and original and fun as Old 97’s did when they started.
Blending their signature mix of raucous punk rock, country songwriting, and often pop-rock leaning hooks, they’re still writing songs that are catchy as hell and perfectly capture their tone as a band. The Old 97’s are one of those bands you can count on to be true to themselves, which is perhaps why they’ve always been just slightly (and tragically) overlooked, in favor of flashier sell-out country rock artists. They have a knack for incorporating truth and humor into their songwriting, and there are plenty of new songs here that already feel like classics. “The Disconnect” and “Nashville” are both standouts. Rhett Miller literally does not age, and his voice still sounds as clear and dreamy as ever, especially on “This is the Ballad” and “Guadalajara”, both classic Rhett, sexy and brazen.
Despite years of partying and craziness, the Old 97’s have lived to tell the tale, and lucky for us, they’re telling us through this record. At times it feels like they might be sad and full of nostalgia for their younger, more untethered days, but then you catch them having a blast poking fun at the ridiculousness of it all. “Rock and roll’s been very, very good to me,” sings Rhett on “Longer than You’ve Been Alive”, and you feel just as grateful for getting to know this band as they do for being able to play for us. The lesson here is that being a “rock star” is awesome until it isn’t anymore, and if you do it right, your music will endure. The Old 97’s are living proof.
Would you review? It’s produced by salim nourallah from dallas. He has a nice one now with the old 97’s..
I need your mailing address if you would consider my powerpop record to review..