Well, finally: An email from New West Records today finally gets around to confirming all that hard work and reporting we've been kicking out since April on the next, once-thought-to-be-a-double-album-but-now-known-to-be-a-two-part-release from Dallas' own Old 97's.
Meaning: Yes, it'll be called The Grand Theatre, Volume One. Yes, it'll be out on October 12 via New West. Yes, it will be followed by a spring 2011 release called--get this--The Grand Theatre, Volume Two.
It's not a total wash of a press release, though. For instance, it's filled with quotes from the band's always quotable frontman, Rhett Miller (example: "What can I say? The Old 97's have been making anger and depression sound fun since 1993."). And it comes with the above album art attached, as well as a track listing so the superfans can learn which songs will be on this first of two albums.
Read the release in full after the jump. And, for good measure, visit the band's MySpace page to hear two of the album's new cuts "Every Night Is Friday Night (Without You)" and "A State of Texas."
While doing so, take pleasure in the fact that we here at DC9 are listening to a stream of the whole disc right now. And three quarters of the way through, we can confidently tell you that, if nothing else, this new release kicks Blame It On Gravity's ass.
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OLD 97's USHER IN THE GRAND THEATRE VOLUME ONE OCTOBER 12th, 2010 VIA NEW WEST RECORDS
August 10th, 2010 - Los Angeles, CA - Old 97's make their triumphant return on October 12th with The Grand Theatre Volume One, their eighth studio album, from New West Records. The band, who Rolling Stone says have "evolved...into master-class rock & roll songwriters," recorded over two dozen brand new songs during the studio sessions and will be releasing a second volume in 2011. The 12 song album was once again produced by Salim Nourallah (the band's previous release, Blame It On Gravity) and engineered by Jim Vollentine (Spoon). Legendary for their blistering live performances, the Old 97's spent a week of pre-production recording the new songs completely live at the nearly 100-year-old (and reportedly haunted) Dallas venue Sons of Hermann Hall. The band set up on stage like they normally do during concerts, so it was instantly conducive to whether or not certain new songs would translate well in a live atmosphere. After deciding what new songs made the cut for proper studio recording, the band moved the production to Treefort Studios in Austin, TX. Basic tracks for these studio sessions were recorded mostly live, resulting in an album that is as vibrant, immediate and sweat drenched as their praised live show. Frontman Rhett Miller stated, "The Old 97's have hit a great stride, found our second wind. I feel like we found the secret to capturing the live energy people rave about after they see us play."
The Grand Theatre Volume One was predominantly written during Rhett Miller's 2009 solo tour abroad. The lyrics are filled with character studies while the sound - expertly rounded out by band members Murry Hammond, Ken Bethea and Philip Peeples - is Garage-Rock-meets-60s-British Invasion without abandoning the classic 97's sound. Rhett Miller offered, "The Grand Theatre centers around a suite of songs I wrote during a month-long tour of England, Ireland and Scandinavia. Opening for the great Steve Earle meant watching a master Texas songwriter at work and I soaked up these strange surroundings and turned them into songs. I was writing at a furious clip in the midst of the most intense kinds of planes, trains and automobiles. I can see an epistolary strain running through the songs. All my years of Anglophilia make these feel like a collection of love letters, or a collection of letters home. I wrote the title track in the dressing room of Leeds' Grand Theatre."
The album's first single, "Every Night Is Friday Night (Without You)" is an exuberant rocker. "Like a lot of songs on The Grand Theatre, "Every Night..." is more complicated than it first appears. The speaker has some issues. What can I say? The Old 97's have been making anger and depression sound fun since 1993." said Miller. "Champaign, Illinois" re-imagines Bob Dylan's classic Highway 61 Revisited track, "Desolation Row" with brand new lyrics by Rhett Miller. Miller said, "The one song on the record that dates further back is 'Champaign, Illinois.' A few years ago, during a long, late-night drive through Southern Illinois, I kept myself awake by rewriting the lyrics to 'Desolation Row.' I played it around live a little, but never recorded it for fear of repercussions from Dylan's legal team. When the 97's were putting this record together, we kept bringing "Champaign" up with a sort of bittersweet longing, sad that we would never be able to use it. Finally, it occurred to me, 'Why not?' Through a series of phone calls, Dylan's manager approached the legend with a live recording of the tune from the old Café Largo in Hollywood. I couldn't believe it when word came back through the channels that Dylan liked the tune but wanted to read the lyrics. I never typed faster. Apparently, Dylan liked it enough that, not only did he approve the release, but he wanted to split the publishing 50/50 with the band. A co-write with Bob Dylan, even in absentia, is an enormous honor. What a cool dude."
An Old 97's record would not be complete without songs from bassist Murry Hammond. He has two strong contributions on The Grand Theatre Volume One, "You Smoke Too Much" and "You Were Born To Be In A Battle." Like Miller's songs, Hammond has a highly literate style yet harkens back to an older school of writing, which creates a balance on the record. Speaking about the record, Hammond stated "I'm a big 60s garage punk fan, and my favorite moments on this record have a thick vibe in that direction...while I'm proud of my stab at 60s Johnny Cash in 'Born To Be In A Battle,' I'm just as thrilled at the way the bass generally bubbles all over the place and the background and harmony vocals swim in the old plate reverb. It gives me that same smile I get listening to my heroes the Zombies, Chocolate Watchband, Syd Barrett, etc. I'm proud of how the band can be garage and raw but very Technicolor at the same time. This is one of my top favorite records of ours."
The Grand Theatre Volume One Track Listing
1. The Grand Theatre
2. Every Night Is Friday Night (Without You)
3. The Magician
4. You Were Born To Be In A Battle
5. The Dance Class
6. Let The Whiskey Take The Reins
7. Champaign, Illinois
8. A State Of Texas
9. You Smoke Too Much
10. Love Is What You Are
11. Please Hold On While The Train Is Moving
12. The Beauty Marks
For more information visit www.old97s.com