2011: 15 of the Best. #10…

December 5, 2011

10. Old 97’s – Bright Spark (See What I Mean)

From: The Grand Theatre Vol. 2
Released: July 5, 2011
Label: New West
Buy it: Here.

The Grand Theatre Vol. 2 went a little too unnoticed this year because even longtime-Old 97’s fans got into a habit of waiting 2 to 3 years between releases. With Volume One in stores for less than a year, I suppose folks can be forgiven for scratching their heads and not perking up when the words “Grand Theatre” appeared for the second time in the new release lists in 9 months. Originally the whole thing was supposed to be a double, but even major labels think that’s akin to suicide in this day and age of flagging sales, so an indie label’s probably less likely to take up the cause. Going the Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 route can be an OK compromise, but at the same time, it can also end up looking like you’re clearing the decks of castoff or not-good-enough-the-first-time-around songs. In actuality, both volumes are pretty even—Vol. 1 intersperses its lesser cuts between its better cuts and Vol. 2 crests for a healthy stretch in the middle, but both have a pretty equal balance between great and throwaway tracks. This hard-charging tune reminds you that even though the Old 97’s have staked a career on songs of bad love and booze over some explosive backing tracks, they can still celebrate good lovin’ with the same amount of verve and fire. This is the sound of love and excitement on a perfect summer day. It’s harder to capture than you think.


  1. The Old 97’s are great, but do you think Rhett Miller ever looks at the success of Ryan Adams and Jeff Tweedy and think, “Man, I am so much better looking than those dudes. What gives?”

  2. Quite possibly so. But I will say that Old 97’s concerts continually ring in the cutest female friends of any band I see every time they’re in town. And they all swoon for Rhett, so when those thoughts hit him, you know … I’m sure he just hits a stage somewhere and puts it all back in perspective.

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