Last week PostLibyan was over at my place stretching before our weekly bout of racquetball. He comes straight from work, due to Atlanta traffic, and changes into his racquetball smashin' gear in my guest bath. So, I was sprawled on the floor trying to stretch my recalcitrant hamstrings when he wondered in and started unpacking his things from his carrying bag. Mrs. Malimus had the stereo going, playing through the five discs that the two of us have decided (this week) is our best musical Switzerland.
"So Lowery's letting the other guy sing a lot on this album, huh?" says PostLibyan.
"The new Cracker album you're playing. That's the other guy, not Lowery singing, right?"
"Actually," I say, "this is the latest Old 97's album."
"Oh. Sounds like Cracker with the other guy singing."
And he was right. It does sound like Cracker, only with the other guy singing.
Now me, I'm a pretty decent fan of Cracker. I like their brand of psychadelicountry-pop. Always have, for the most part. And that is what the Electra label version of The Old 97's has morphed into. That's not a bad thing. Considering how far astray the band could have wandered after Fight Songs, I'll take Cracker any day of the week.
Actually, I do tend to take this Cracker-that-is-not-Cracker more than once a week. Along with The New Pornographers, this album has been in my steady rotation stack since I bought it two months ago. It's unassuming, singable pop with enough twang to scare off the kiddies. It's what Fastball would be if they were still on a major label, only better.
Now, this CD isn't going to change your lives or anything. And it's not going to turn the Mogwai faithful into pop radio listeners. But it is better than any radio pop you'll hear around. It's melodic and catchy, and The Old 97's can still turn a lyric and carrying a pinched harmony twang as well as anyone out there.
So, if you like Cracker and the like, I strongly recommend Satellite Rides. If you own Autechre albums, just keep moving. It's really that simple.