In The Battle For Area Alt-Country Supremacy, Who Wins? The Old 97's or Slobberbone?
Slobberbone and the Old 97's
Here's the deal: Slobberbone and the Old 97's both arrived on the scene at right around the same time in the 90's, and, though Brent Best and Co. took some time off to focus on other projects in recent years (read: The Drams), both bands are once again currently active.
The 97's just released their second phenomenal effort in as many years, and Slobberbone is apparently in the studio themselves, working on their own comeback release.
So now seems like as good of a time as any to decide which of these two legendary local acts is the top dog of regional alt-country. Let's forget for the moment that only half of the Old 97s currently live in Texas. Let's take this step by step.
Old 97's: Too Far to Care
Slobberbone: Barrel Chested
Too Far to Care is the best album -- and by a wide margin -- that the Old 97's have ever made. Slobberbone, meanwhile, has made two pretty great ones: Barrel Chested and Everything You Thought Was Right Was Wrong Today. Neither of them has as many great songs, start to finish, as Too Far, though.
Winner: Old 97's
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Old 97's: "Timebomb"
Slobberbone: "Whiskey Glass Eye"
When I first heard "Timebomb," it was in the movie Clay Pigeons, and it gave me goosebumps. The song just fit the opening of that film so well. Rhett Miller has never sang better than when he shouts out "Oh Celeste" as the song ends. "Whiskey Glass Eye," however, is the best song Paul Westerberg never wrote. And that's saying something.
Old 97's: Rhett Miller
Slobberbone: Brent Best
Both Rhett and Brent Best are both quality songwriters, but Best has never written anything as trivial as Miller's "Oppenheimer." That song is embarrassing.
Old 97's: Murry Hammond
Slobberbone: Brian Lane
Murry Hammond not only plays a mean bass, but, now that we think of it, he also might be the best songwriter in Old 97s.
Winner: Old 97's
Old 97's: Philip Peeples
Slobberbone: Tony Harper
Pebbles is a machine behind the drum kit. He's not flashy. He just gets the job done.
Winner: Old 97's
Old 97's: Ken Bethea
Slobberbone: Jess Barr
Slobberbone's two guitarists pack more of a punk punch than Miller and Bethea do. They look cooler, too.
Looks pretty much like a tie, right?
Other factors to consider: 1) Old 97s have much more of a national recognition factor, but the Slobberbone crowd is cooler; 2) Rhett Miller is better looking, but Brent Best could kick his ass; and 3) Old 97's have two good songwriters who have basically doubled the output of Brent Best and crew.
But this isn't about which band has the most albums. And we can't just call this thing a tie, now, can we?
No. So, let's figure this out, then, by determining which band has put out a better percentage of good music. There, Slobberbone clearly wins. Tie goes to them.
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