Articles by Jim Connelly

Jim Connelly has been eye-deep in media of all kinds ever since he can remember, and probably prior to that. Over the past quarter-century he has worked in the radio, film, music, and internet industries, and has been writing about popular culture and technology the entire time. Prior to co-founding Medialoper, Jim's work appeared both online and off in publications such as Wired, The Village Voice, Neumu and Websight Magazine . . . Jim at Facebook . . . Jim on Twitter . . .

Certain Songs #1392: Old 97’s – “The One”

Album: Blame it on Gravity
Year: 2008

Then Rhett Miller started making solo albums. Which made sense: he’s always been prolific as hell, and he wanted to make music outside of the established sound / groove of the Old 97’s.

And so starting with 2002’s The Instigator, Miller has spent his time alternating solo albums with Old 97’s albums , and in fact he has just released his most recent solo album and an Old 97’s Christmas album (neither of which I’ve heard as of this writing), so as far as his fans go, he’s never disappeared.

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Certain Songs #1391: Old 97’s – “Singular Girl”

Album: Satellite Rides (Bonus Disc)
Album: 2001

“I didn’t know you were up to the Old 97s,” a visibly delighted Rox said when she read the post for “Timebomb.” And despite the fact that the stars have never aligned for us to see them in concert — and they just played in L.A. a couple of nights ago, but we had a long-planned party that night — they’re probably one of her favorite artists, so she was interested in what other songs I was writing about.

So, obviously she was fine with things like “Barrier Reef” and “Murder (Or a Heart Attack),” she was dismayed that I was skipping “Oppenheimer” — just missed the cut — and I had planned not to write about “Singular Girl,” until I got to the version on Rhett Miller’s solo album. “But it’s got one of the greatest lines ever,” she pointed out, and as we both repeated that line at the same time, I realized that I needed to write about it after all.

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Certain Songs #1390: Old 97’s – “Question”

Album: Satellite Rides
Year: 2001

And now we come to what is unquestionably my favorite Old 97’s song. Which is ironic on several levels, the most immediate one being that it’s just Rhett Miller all by his lonesome on an acoustic guitar. So I guess that it’s more like my favorite Rhett Miller song, which just adds to the irony in that Rhett remade it on his second solo album, 2006’s The Believer, but with a more full arrangement — keyboards and strings — and it doesn’t work nearly as well.

But man does it work on “Satellite Rides,” not only sticking out like a sore thumb in between the full-tilt rockers, but also in tone: there’s no distance from Rhett Miller and the simple proposal story he’s telling.

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Certain Songs #1389: Old 97’s – “What I Wouldn’t Do”

Album: Satellite Rides
Year: 2001

The thing about Satellite Rides was that it was almost an embarrassment of riches. Nearly every single song was a winner, from the power chord opener “King of All The World,” and running winners like “Rollerskate Skinny” and “Designs on You.”

Hell, even the outtakes were lit: the bonus-CD only “Singular Girl” is as good as anything on the record. And smack damn in the middle were a pair of songs that pretty much made the record for me — tomorrow’s subject, “Question” and the insanely hooky “What I Wouldn’t Do.”

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Certain Songs #1388: Old 97’s – “Buick City Complex”

Album: Satellite Rides
Year: 2001

Of course, by 2001, Rhett Miller wasn’t the only high-profile alt-country bandleader who had turned his sights towards rock ‘n’ roll. Jeff Tweedy had been going in that direction since Being There and was to deconstruct everything on Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and Ryan Adams had been moving the doomed Whiskeytown away on the electic Pneumonia and of course, went full classic rock on Gold.

In between was Rhett Miller, who followed up Fight Songs with the best record the Old 97’s ever made, 2001’s Satellite Rides, an album that wasn’t nearly as high profile as the news-hook records that both Tweedy and Adams made, but was equally as good. And in fact, I think the best songs on Satellite Rides are probably better than the best songs on Gold or even YHF.

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