Drag It Up
There are scores of people who live and breathe the Bluegrass, Americana, Alt. Country brands of music. They go to Dead shows, they attend 3-day Folk festivals, they wear sandals… I am not one of these people. The Old 97’s, clearly, are.
Drag It Up is the 6th release for this Dallas quartet. It’s your classic country bar band singing songs about love (mostly unrequited) and their hometown (loving it, leaving it, returning back to it). They’ve got guitars and drums, but they’ve also got shakers, accordions and even a tambourine on the track that could be considered the album’s biggest rocker, “The New Kid.”
It’s the lyrics that really make this music hard to take seriously. I guess the point is to be too far drunk to give the words much attention. On the opening song, “Won’t Be Home,” vocalist Rhett Miller sings, “you’re a bottle-cap away from pushing me too far/well the problem’s getting bigger and it’s a compact car … Now I’m on wounded knee and we’re at waterloo/so please get out of my car.” Miller follows in a long tradition of country singers who spin nonsensical lyrics in their attempt to be witty.
“Coahulia,” which seems to be the band’s attempt to sound like The Beach Boys, begins with the line, “I turned my microwave on and I cooked my chicken ravioli.” I’m not making this up!
The worst example of songwriting is from a song called “Friends Forever,” a little ditty about stereotypes in high school and how none of it matters after you graduate. “I was a debater/was not a stoner nor an inline skater/was not a player nor a player hater.” I’ve heard better lyrics written by kids still in high school.
Old 97’s have been hanging around for over 10 years, so there must be an audience for their music. I bet they’re HUGE in Texas. I, however, will not be checking out their past 5 releases. If you want Americana, Alt. Country, New Folk, or whatever it’s being called these days, check out Wilco, Ryan Adams, or just get an old Grateful Dead record.
New West: www.newwestrecords.com