Hit By a Train - The Best of Old 97's
This once Dallas-based alt-country quartet skewered the line between country, alternative rock, and power pop and even threw in a few distorted guitar attempts to suggest something harder. The band’s free spirit has made them difficult to categorize and this “Best Of” (they had no actual “hits,” so it’s a valiant attempt to figure their strongest material) features both fan favorites and obscurities from their first five albums. Marty Robbins’ “El Paso” was cut for the TV show King of the Hill. “Crying Drunk” was an early single. “Barrier Reef” and “Nineteen” are presented in their live versions, showing off the band’s best side, that of a tough, irreverent invigorated group who feed off adrenaline and an appreciative audience. Not that the group doesn’t hit its stride in the studio. “Doreen” features a punishing rhythm section. And singer Rhett Miller’s country twang on tunes such as “Victoria” and “Jagged” has strong grit and recalls ‘80s country-punk pioneer Jason Ringenberg (of Jason and the Scorchers) in its emotional sincerity while still forging his own style.