Fight Songs

Fight Songs

Old 97’s sprung from Dallas as leading lights of the alt-country movement and have since tinkered with the formula, adding power-pop elements and ratcheting up the distortion to hard rock levels with 1997’s Too Far To Care and again with 1999’s Fight Songs.  As bands such as Wilco continually expand the parameters, it’s made alt-country a far more interesting genre than its traditionalist ties might suggest. Old 97’s musical inquiries point them to some exciting discoveries in their own sound. “Jagged” and “Oppenheimer,” presented here on their fourth album (second for a major label), are among their two strongest songs, tuneful and with playing that musters up raw conviction. The modest jangle and soft-rock harmonies informing “Lonely Holiday” cherrypick from the Byrds. “Alone So Far” evokes a windswept western desert with its minor key “Streets of Laredo” vibe. Their live feel displays the group in strong form. Singers Rhett Miller and Murry Hammond work in beautiful combinations, arranging their tunes with eerie pedal steel guitars, accented piano fills and rolling, flowing rhythms.

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