Old 97′s, Too Far to Care

Stephen M. Deusner

By Stephen M. Deusner

on 10.09.12 in Reviews

Too Far To Care

Old 97's
An unnervingly urgent alt-country touchstone

’97 was the Old 97′s’ year: They released their third album and first for a major label, Too Far to Care, about toiling in a touring band and dating an alcoholic stripper. On “Great Barrier Reef” and “Four Leaf Clover” (a duet with Exene Cervenka), frontman Rhett Miller sounds romantically dangerous, as though his overactive brain can’t trust his heart or his libido. The expanded version includes four bonus tracks, including Miller’s tragic trucker tune “Holy Cross” and Murry Hammond genially honkytonk love song “No Doubt About It.” These rarities are a little more country than punk, but like the rest of the album, they showcase the band’s tight dynamic: Philip Peeples’s steady snare rolls, Ken Bethea’s eloquent guitar licks and Hammond’s sturdy bass lines. Like many alt-country artists (Wilco, Joe Henry), the Old 97′s would eventually leave this dusty Texas sound behind for slick, studio-bound pop, but the livewire dynamic of Too Far to Care still sounds as unnervingly urgent today as it did 15 years ago.