Old 97's

Satellite Rides

What do you want the Old 97's to be? When the Dallas band released their first CD, 1994's Hitchhike to Rhome, they knocked down blazing alcohol-soaked love songs and a fine cover of Merle Haggard's "Mama Tried," firmly grabbing a spot in the alt-country canon. But on Satellite Rides, their fifth major release, they have left behind most of the "country" and all of the "alt." Longtime fans will continue to grumble about the band's direction, yet rarely have the Old 97's sounded as smart or as confident. Gone are the affected twangs and the rollicking train songs, but what's left are thirteen polished tracks devoted to the group's primary preoccupation—love and its aftermath. Some are shamelessly irresistible ("King of All the World"), others are disarmingly sweet ("Weightless"), and almost all sparkle with lines that are best sung with a knowing grin: "Do you wanna mess around" and "I believe in love, but it don't believe in me." Satellite Rides will undoubtedly renew the argument about who is the best band in Texas, but it makes one thing perfectly clear—the Old 97's can be anything they want.

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