Old 97's, 'The Grand Theatre Volume One' (New West)

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The Grand Theatre Volume One
Critical Mass
Release Date: October 12, 2010
Label: New West

by David Menconi

Despite frontman Rhett Miller's nice-guy tendencies, Old 97's are way more fun when he gives in to his bitchy side--which is large and in charge on The Grand Theatre, runaway-train backbeats and all. The title track sports Miller's best Joe Strummer sneer, and the Champaign, Illinois Chamber of Commerce should have something to say about the song of the same name, which builds on Dylan's "Desolation Row" and likens their fair city to hell. Best of all is "Every Night Is Friday Night (Without You)," a cold-blooded kiss-off that makes breakups feel exhilarating.

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