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Old 97’s, ‘Blame It on Gravity’ (New West)

With growing families, solo albums, label changes, and geographical barriers (two main members living on opposite coasts), should Old 97’s even exist in 2008, never mind be this focused? Their seventh studio album bucks and chugs, balancing the quartet’s original alt-country impetus with Rhett Miller’s love of power pop. “The Easy Way” trims hooks and harmonies from “Last Train to Clarksville”; “She Loves the Sunset” pays tribute to Jonathan Richman’s romantic innocence; and bassist Murry Hammond’s two contributions, especially the somber “Color of a Lonely Heart,” celebrate the band’s road-tested all-for-one chemistry.

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Tags: Albums