OLD 97S, THE URBAN LOUNGE, Thursday, May 15, 9 p.m., $20
The Old 97s have been around long enough in my musical fandom to move from one of my "new favorite bands" to become one of my "old favorites," and thankfully the Dallas quartet is still releasing excellent new musical every couple years to add to a catalog of songs I'll never get sick of hearing. Rhett Miller is one of my favorite songwriters, capable of combining a great sense of humor with some searing, emotional salvos in his lyrics, and the band's blend of straightforward rock and country twang serves them well in bars and theaters for about 20 years now. Miller and his long-time bandmates--bassist/singer Murry Hammond, guitarist Ken Bethea and drummer Philip Peeples are touring in support of a new album, Most Messed Up, and it's full of Old 97s' classic sound on songs like "Wasted," "Wheels Off" and "Let's Get Drunk and Get It On" (subtle, I know). Miller has noted the album is "bawdier" than much of the band's past work--and that's a good thing in my book. And even in the seemingly joyous sound of many of the new songs, there are some dark sentiments lurking for those paying attention to Miller's words. Opening the show is rising country-rock singer/songwriter Nikki Lane, supporting her new All or Nothin' album that was produced by the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach.