Sound Advice: : Bowling for Soup, Old 97s and Roger Clyne

Upcoming concert previews of note

Jul 23, 2007 at 2:06 pm
The Old 97s

Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers with Patrick Sweany

Sunday · Southgate House

Nearly a decade and a half ago, Roger Clyne co-founded The Refreshments, one of the all-time great smartass Rock bands. The Tempe, Ariz., quartet had tasted indie success with their debut Wheelie, and followed up with a major label home run with Fizzy, Fuzzy, Big and Buzzy which spawned their huge radio hit, "Banditos." Not long after, Mike Judge chose the Refreshments' sound check jam as the theme song for his then-fledgling Fox series, King of the Hill, after which the band got serious on their third album, The Bottle and Fresh Horses. The album tanked, their label canned them and the Refreshments dried up in 1998.

Later that same year, Clyne and Refreshments drummer P.H. Naffah embarked on a vision quest into the Arizona desert and emerged with the backpacks full of great songs that ultimately formed the basis of the rootsy debut album by Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers, 1999's Honky Tonk Union. After building a solid regional reputation and then hitting the road for a long national tour, the quintet released the high-desert wonder, Sonoran Hope and Madness, in 2002. RCPM's line-up shifted around this time; ex-Gin Blossoms guitarist Scott Johnson departed for his former band's reunion, leaving RCPM a quartet with just Clyne and Steve Larson on guitars.

After 2004's ¡Americano!, Danny White left to start his own Nashville studio and was replaced by ex-Gloritone bassist Nick Scropos, who had been Clyne's first choice for the Peacemakers six years prior but was unavailable. The following year saw the release of the band's second live album, Live at Billy Bob's Texas, a recording of RCPM's rave-up gig at the legendary honky tonk. The band's first digital-only (and iTunes exclusive) release, Four Unlike Before, dropped in 2006.

Now approaching nearly a decade together in one form or another, RCPM have just released their fourth and most accomplished studio album to date, No More Beautiful World.

With a sonic profile that includes AltCountry, Americana, Tex-Mex, desert Folk and Southwestern-flavored Pop, the only pigeonhole Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers fit comfortably within is the one marked "great music." (Brian Baker)

Bowling for Soup with Melee, Quietdrive and Army Of Freshmen

Monday · Bogart's

There was a time not long ago when Bowling For Soup had a good deal of company in creating funny Pop Punk music. In particular, Blink-182 and Sum 41 topped the Alternative Rock charts at the start of the decade with their sense of humor front and center in their music. These days — at least among high profile groups — Bowling For Soup is the last of the happy-go-lucky Pop Punk groups left standing. The band's singer/guitarist, Jeret Reddick, is just fine with being alone at the top.

"The great thing about that is we weathered the storm. We stayed the same," he says. "Those bands, whether it's been for the worse or whatever, they've all moved on to other things. Obviously Blink-182 is no longer. But they went past what they started out as and went into doing something else. We're not going to do that. And it's not that we're not capable of evolving into something else, we just don't have any interest in it. Bowling for Soup is what it is, and when it's time to do something else, we'll move on."

The irony of staying the course is that Bowling For Soup now seems to be taken more seriously than ever. That's what happens when a band gets a Grammy nomination (for the song "Girl All the Bad Guys Want") and a gold record (for 2004's A Hangover You Can't Avoid). Suddenly people are realizing some musical talent lies beneath Bowling For Soup's playful exterior.

The Denton, Texas-based group's current release, The Great Burrito Extortion Case, is like the group's other albums, emphasizing catchy and concise Pop Punk tunes like "High School Never Ends," "I'm Gay" and "A Friendly Goodbye." The songs are still funny, too, with "High School Never Ends" poking fun at fun at the nation's sophomoric fascination with celebrities, and "I'm Gay" playing with the double-meaning of the "G word" and popularity of misery in rock today.

These songs figure to get played Monday at Bogart's, although it's not a sure thing. That's because Bowling For Soup doesn't use a set list and lets audience response help determine what songs get played on a particular night.

Like most things with the band, this tradition wasn't part of a big plan.

"I think when it first started, the whole not doing a set list thing was almost like a laziness thing," Reddick says. "It was more of a line drawn in the sand. 'Who's going to make a set list?' 'I'm not going to do it,' and yada, yada, yada. That's sort of how we go about a lot of different things, interviews and even the songwriting process to an extent. There are just no rules. It keeps it interesting for us." (Alan Sculley)

The Old 97s

Tuesday · Southgate House

Thirteen years ago, the Old 97s endeavored to show off all of their influences in the one-fell-swoop of the Lone Star quartet's debut album, Hitchhike to Rhome. Juggling musical ideas as seemingly disparate as Punk, Country, Bluegrass, Folk and Psychedelia, the Old 97s rode the groundswell of Rhome straight to a contract with Chicago's premiere AltCountry label, Bloodshot Records, leading to one of the most stunning sophomore albums in Rock history, the thunderously classic Wreck Your Life.

The Old 97s' subsequent South by Southwest showcase lathered up the industry types and Elektra roped the band for their roster, resulting in a trio of albums that found the band actively hammering on their sound, from the full-throttle Country homage of 1997's Too Far to Care to the Byrds-y Pop jangle of 1999's Fight Songs to the Kinksian swing of 2001's Satellite Rides. After getting bounced from Elektra amidst the Time Warner/AOL merger, the band took a long hiatus that looked like the end of the Old 97s; frontman Rhett Miller released his debut solo album, The Instigator, bassist Murray Hammond collaborated with new wife Grey DeLisle, and guitarist Ken Bethea and drummer Philip Peeples started a new band called The Scrap Hotel.

After a long break away from each other, the foursome reconvened in 2003 for a Dallas show and new song ideas began flowing. In rapid succession, the band worked up a batch of new material, signed with New West and recorded 2004's incredible Drag It Up, an album that seemed to impossibly capture all of the musical elements that they had exhibited from the start of their career. Two of last year's big surprises were Rhino's well programmed career retrospective, Hit By a Train: The Best of the Old 97s, and Miller's sparklingly diverse sophomore solo album, The Believer.

Although there doesn't seem to be plans afoot to return to the studio anytime soon, the Old 97s are notorious for knocking out albums with very little notice. If there are new songs on this circuit, a new Old 97s album could be just around a dusty corner. (BB)