Songs by Old 97's made nearly all the "Best Albums of 1999"
lists, I had to rush out and get it I needed to know what all
the hype surrounding the practically unknown Texas four-piece was
about. To tell the truth, I wasn't all that impressed by the record,
or for that matter, the band that is , until I read a review
of their 2000 EP Early Tracks and thought, "Now, that's more
up my alley." Right away, I fell in love with each drunken, poor-me
country song. I just loved it and laughed that all this
Hank Williams-type country music was coming out of a Brit-Invasion
looking group. So with two opposing views of the band, I felt
hesitant about buying their new album Satellite Rides. Well,
about two and half seconds into lead track "King of All the World,"
the ongoing battle was put to rest: I love this band. Even
more, I love their new crafty record. Satellite Rides
is happy, light and catchy. Without grave politics or deep,
heart-wrenching topics, it's the kind of jangly record that makes you
smile. Not because it lacks depth, but because the depth isn't taken
so seriously. Like when you're living your life day to day, lost in
all the stress and anxiety, but then you step back for a moment and
think it's really not so bad at all, and you smile you get
that same weightless, content feeling from listening to this album.
With "Am I Too Late" and "Up the Devil's Pay" you'll find the same
old-style country feel that you got from Early Tracks. But the
rest of the record, albeit country-tinged, is infectious, musically
complex pop led by Rhett Miller's distinctly desperate singing.
"Rollerskate Skinny" is perhaps the most fun, with its contagious
beats and witty, sometimes bizarre lyrics: "Love feels good when it
sits right down/ Puts its feet up on the table and it sends a bowl
around / I believe in love but it don't believe in me." The beautiful
"Weightless" is one of the album's softer songs. Amid underwater
guitar riffs and tambourine jingles, Miller sings of a better, easier
existence: "All the bad things are gone/ All the good things are
here/ Almost exactly like this place where you and I are fighting
yeah/ I'm so sick and tired of fighting yeah/ Up there we'll never
fight at all." Dabbling in pop, country and rock, the band can't be
categorized. They're sappy, serious and sarcastic all at once. That's
what makes them so different, so great.