Alt-country band the Old 97’s, contemporaries of the Jayhawks and Uncle Tupelo, formed during the Grunge era, quickly becoming famous among music writers for not living up to their potential. The music industry had proclaimed alt-country the next big thing, but mainstream America didn’t wholeheartedly embrace countrified punk as predicted. But really, who cares? Mainstream appeal isn’t all that appealing in the grand scheme of things, anyway. And is there anything more 1990s, more Gen X, than underachieving? As the group sings on “Longer Than You’ve Been Alive,” the opening track of Most Messed Up, they don’t really care about the hype. They make music: What else do you want?
The Old 97’s, who took their name from the 1924 Vernon Dalhart song commemorating a train wreck, have chugged along. They released their 16th album, Most Messed Up, in May, and it promptly rated in the Top 10 of Billboard’s Independent Albums list, the best debut so far in the band’s career.
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