Old 97’s alt-country has been ‘country alt-fans like’ for a while now, but so has alt-country as a whole. Yet there’s a reason that hipsters like artists like Old 97’s, and not just because it lets then non-ironically enjoy a great genre of music. On Twelfth, the band uses a specific style of sound to connect to everyone.
For instance, there’s the immediately accessible opener, “The Dropouts”, which is fun for everyone from those without even a G.E.D. to post-docs. Similarly, “Turn Off the TV” appeals to you whether you have many televisions or none, and the hootenanny twang of “Bottle Rocket Baby” works even if you’ve never done square-dancing. There is a moving country-rock loss to “Diamonds on Neptune”, and the metaphor of “Belmont Hotel” works very well. The sweet, wry “I Like You Better” brings to mind the best of Conor Oberst, even if you’re sick of Oberst or have never heard of him.
Yes, the Twelfth Old 97’s release, Rhett Miller’s band are old hands at alt-country, and their experience & skill show, in a record for all.