JBM Promotions & WNKU Radio
111 East 6th Street
Newport, KY, 41071
Doors 7:30 PM / Show 8:30 PM
This event is 18 and over
Watch & Listen
"Rock and roll's been very very good to me," Rhett Miller sings on "Longer Than You've Been Alive," an epic six-minute stream-of-consciousness meditation on his life in music. It's a rare moment of pulling back the curtain, on both the excesses and tedium of the world of a touring musician, and it's the perfect way to open the Old 97's new album, 'Most Messed Up.'
"I wrote that song very quickly and didn’t rewrite one word of it," Miller explains. "It's sort of a thesis statement not just for this record, but for my life's work."
To say that rock and roll has been good to the Old 97's (guitarist/vocalist Miller, bassist/vocalist Murry Hammond, guitarist Ken Bethea, and drummer Philip Peeples) would be an understatement. The band emerged from Dallas twenty years ago at the forefront of a musical movement blending rootsy, country-influenced songwriting with punk rock energy and delivery. The New York Times has described their major label debut, 'Too Far To Care,' as "a cornerstone of the 'alternative country' movement…[that] leaned more toward the Clash than the Carter Family." They've released a slew of records since then, garnering praise from NPR and Billboard to SPIN and Rolling Stone, who hailed the band as "four Texans raised on the Beatles and Johnny Cash in equal measures, whose shiny melodies, and fatalistic character studies, do their forefathers proud." The band performed on television from Letterman to Austin City Limits and had their music appear in countless film and TV soundtracks (they appeared as themselves in the Vince Vaughn/Jennifer Aniston movie 'The Break Up'). Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan told The Hollywood Reporter that he put the band on a continuous loop on his iPod while writing the show's final scene.
'Most Messed Up' finds the Old 97's at their raucous, boozy best, all swagger and heart. Titles like "Wasted," "Intervention," "Wheels Off," "Let's Get Drunk And Get It On," and "Most Messed Up" hint at the kind of narrators Miller likes to inhabit, men who possess an appetite for indulgence and won't let a few bad decisions get in the way of a good story.
The Travoltas hail from Dallas, Texas, and were formed there in the fall of 2011. Salim Nourallah (vocals, guitar), Paul Slavens (keys, vocals), Nick Earl (guitar), Emsy Robinson (bass) and Mike Hodges (drums), deftly swerve through music decades past ranging from tin-pan alley to the 60’s British Invasion and 70’s punk rock.
Nourallah, a well-established producer and solo artist in his own right, conceptualized the project, hand-picking each member for their unique skill set and myriad of influences. The result is the Travoltas’ unique sound, a blend of pop/rock’s pre-1980’s history going back all the way to the 40’s.
The Travoltas was recorded and mixed in just 5 days by Jim Vollentine (Spoon; Old 97s, White Rabbits). Vollentine had also worked on Nourallah’s last solo record, “Hit Parade.” “I Can’t Say No” comes crashing out of the gate with reverb drenched surf guitars and Liberace-esque piano runs. “1978” is a playful take on the charmingly catchy pop single Nourallah released in 2004. It sports a dub reggae/dancehall groove, almost as if the Kinks were doing a send-up of the Clash. “We Did Some Things” (another re-do from Nourallah’s back-catalogue) and “Mail Ya to Australia” showcase Slavens virtuoso piano work and Nourallah’s clever wordplay. Slavens channels Randy Newman, Steve Nieve and even Scott Joplin on these numbers while Nourallah channels Ray Davies and some sort of punk-rock Sinatra persona.
The power pop/punky “If You Could Be the Star” and Kinksy “Problematico” (written by Salim’s younger brother, Faris) call guitar player Nick Earl to the front of the class with his not-at-all-retro manipulation of sound. Earl fuses the past to the present with his guitar wizardry – at times creating sounds and textures that don’t even slightly resemble traditional guitar tones. This element is key to the Travoltas fresh sound and greatly helps the band step out of retro-kitsch land and in to the present day.