Xmas Music

Texas rockers Old 97s release very first Christmas holiday album

Texas rockers Old 97s release very first Christmas holiday album

Old 97's Christmas album
The holidays just got a hip upgrade. Photo courtesy of ATO

Austin favorites The Old 97's have crossed a new threshold: the Christmas album. The Dallas-bred quartet will release its first-ever collection of original Christmas songs, Love the Holidays, on Friday, November 16.

The album is coming out via ATO and was produced, mixed, and engineered by John Pedigo in Texas.

It has a dozen songs that include new compositions, as well as a cover of the New Year's Eve standard "Auld Lang Syne."

The record has some contributors including Kevin Russell (The Gourds, Shinyribs), who wrote the title track. Acclaimed writer Ben Greenman co-wrote two songs: "Gotta Love Being A Kid (Merry Christmas)" and "Snow Angels." Dan Bern cowrote a song about the famed reindeer called "Rudolph Is Blue."

Nearly simultaneously, Old 97's frontman Rhett Miller will release a new solo album, The Messenger. It comes out on November 9, also via ATO. Pre-orders are available now here, joined by an instant gratification download of the LP's first single, "Total Disaster."

The Messenger was recorded in early 2018 over five days at The Isokon in Woodstock, New York, with producer/musician Sam Cohen (Kevin Morby, Benjamin Booker) Miller is backed by a combo comprised of Cohen (guitar, piano, organ, drums), Brian Betancourt (bass), and Ray Rizzo (drums).

Miller goes deep into his own youthful experiences with suicide and depression, placing "a long distance phone call to myself as a 14-year-old" on songs such as "The Human Condition" and "Permanent Damage."

Miller says in a release that he wanted this record to be "less safe," by working with people he didn't know, for surprising new results.

"That's what you're getting with this record," he says. "You're getting this locked-in rhythm section with a crazy, psychedelic guitar maestro playing along with me singing my songs about depression and insecurity."

Miller and Old 97's will celebrate both LPs with an eagerly anticipated U.S. holiday tour, headlined by Old 97's and opened by a solo acoustic set from Miller. The dates begin November 28 at The Neptune in Seattle, and then continue through late December.

On December 28, the band will be in town for their Holiday Extravangaza! at the Mohawk

Michael Casey, a "punk rock magician" from Raleigh, North Carolina, will do a magic show as an interlude between sets.