Although I hadn’t even entered grade school at the time the Old 97s were releasing what is widely considered to be their greatest music in the 90’s, since I became aware of the band in 2008, I’ve visited and revisited their catalog and followed their career through, as of yesterday, three records (Blame it on Gravity, The Grand Theatre: Volume One and now The Grand Theatre: Volume Two). So, it was with great excitement that I rushed to the store yesterday to pick up my copy of the new album. It hasn’t quit playing in the iTunes library since.
Regardless of what reviews have said about the band not being able to revitalize their early “cowpunk” energy (see the Paste review), what strikes me about each new release, TGT: Volume Two included, is the variety of material and fresh perspective each manages to bring. There’s a very present effort on the part of the band to experiment with new tones, lyric explorations and even genres, as on bassist Murry Hammond’s sea-chanty themed, “White Port.”