Appropriately enough for the band who wrote "Time Bomb," the Old 97's exploded back into alt-country's front rank with last year's The Grand Theatre, Vol. 1. After a couple of lackluster albums and a hiatus during which front man Rhett Miller made a couple of solo records, the Dallas foursome sounded revitalized and rejuvenated on twang-banging rockers ("Every Night Is Friday Night (Without You)"), melancholy relationship dissections ("The Magician") and a Lone Star song for the ages ("A State of Texas"). Their nearly two-hour set at the Continental last October was worth its weight in longnecks, and Volume 2 of Theatre is due this summer. Opening are Nashville rowdies Those Darlins and the 97's brand-new New West labelmates, Houston's own roots-rock favorite sons Buxton.
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