Saturday, January 29, 2011

From Texas to Tennessee

I'm going to take it to the United Nations or to a rock and roll radio station... (Old 97's - Please Hold While the Train in Moving)

I've been listening to Bruce Springsteen's The Promise quiet a bit lately, but I wanted to talk about a couple others that are also on my current playlist.

First to leave the station from Texas, the Old 97's and their latest release The Grand Theatre Volume I. The Old 97's play rock and roll with a twist of Texas country. They are lead by charismatic front man/lead singer Rhett Miller, with Murry Hammond on bass and vocals, lead guitarist Ken Bethea and drummer Philip Peeples.

The Grand Theatre was recorded in Austin Texas after the band had rented out the Son of Herman Hall in Dallas and played the new songs to see how they would sound in concert. A couple of dozen songs were recorded. A second volume is to be released this spring.

At any rate, The Grand Theatre is the Old 97's besting outing since probably 2001's Satelite Rides. The cd starts off with the title track, a rocker with interesting lyrics; Every Night is Friday Night is instant likable breakup song; Champaign, Illinois is a rewrite of Bob Dylan's Desolation Row (Dylan is given half the writing credit); The Dance Class and Please Hold On While the Train is Moving are highlights; on Let the Whiskey Take the Reins gutiarist Ken Bethea is the star as Rhett Miller sings in a low voice; Murry Hammond takes over the lead vocals on You Smoke Too Much and You Were Born To Be In Battle with winning results.



Second up from Tennesee are Kings of Leon and their 5th album Come Around Sundown. After a change in direction on their last album Only By the Night from garage rock to stadium rock the Kings continue in that direction. Sundown is again produced by Angelo Petraglia and Jacquire King and leans a little in the direction of U2 with it's atmospheric sounds.

The cd opens with the very atmospheric The End; Radioactive, the fine lead single follows; Mary has a 50ish feel to it; the highlight is the ode to southern hospitality Back Down South. Come Around Sundown may not pack the punch of the Kings early work or have the mega hits of Only By the Night, but it is a fine listen.



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