Archive | November, 2018

Certain Songs #1386: Old 97’s – “Murder (or a Heart Attack)”

Album: Fight Songs
Year: 1999

My favorite song on Fight Songs isn’t really a fight song, or even a love song really, and it sure as hell isn’t alt-country either.

What it is, however, is a song that combines both Rhett Miller’s penchant for clever lyrics and his ability to write a plaintive melody line that sticks in your head.

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Certain Songs #1385: Old 97’s – “Jagged”

Album: Fight Songs
Year: 1999

If the Old 97’s breakthrough album, 1997’s Too Far To Care, was both an amplification and expansion of their alt-country roots, then the follow-up, 1999’s Fight Songs, was a conscious effort to break out of alt-country once and for all.

Instead, they moved more towards straight out rock ‘n’ roll, while still keeping one foot in the alt-country world, with the opening track on Fight Songs, “Jagged” as a near-perfect transition. As well as one of their very best songs.

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Certain Songs #1384: Old 97’s – “Barrier Reef”

Album: Too Far To Care
Year: 1997

One of the most quotable songs in the whole Old 97’s canon, “Barrier Reef” is a winning mix of a huge-ass Ken Berthea guitar riff, a jaunty beat from drummer Phillip Peeples and a vocal from Rhett Miller that perfectly caught the ambivalence he was singing about.

And what was he so ambivalent about? As it turns out, a one-night stand that at least superficially went exactly the way he wanted it to go. Which was the problem.

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Certain Songs #1383: Old 97’s – “Timebomb”

Album: Too Far To Care
Year: 1997

Hailing from Dallas, Texas, the Old 97’s have been putting their raucous spin on what we used to call alt-country for 25 years now.

Featuring ageless lead singer Stuart Ransom “Rhett” Miller II, a former teenaged songwriting prodigy who retains a gift for slightly dirty one-liners, and guitarist Ken Bethea, who alternates hooks and snarling leads, they’ve remained remarkably consistent during that time: you could pick up literally any Old 97’s album from any part of their career and walk away humming.

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Certain Songs #1382: O’Jays – “For The Love of Money”

Album: Ship Ahoy
Year: 1973

Even on the AM radio in 1973, you could tell just how weird and fucked-up the production of “For The Love of Money” was.

First off there was that bassline: weirdly echoing around itself; simultaneously creating and filling space around itself. And in fact, it was so unique that bassist Anthony Jackson ended up with a partial songwriting credit, which probably changed his life forever, as “For The Love of Money” is yet another one of those songs that has never left popular culture.

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