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In the clubs 

Geez, it was only a couple years ago that the Old 97's (pictured above) were playing at Local 506. After a couple of Bloodshot record releases and an approving nod by the No Depression crowd, the Dallas boys got snagged by a major (Elektra) and delivered the rollicking Too Far Too Care, a catchy batch of songs about love and loss--mostly loss. On their latest, Fight Songs, lyricist and vocalist Rhett Miller writes a mean line, turns a mean phrase, and jumps headfirst into the boy-meets-girl Gulf of Misunderstanding (Miller goes as far as to thank writer Raymond Carver on the album sleeve). Recorded at Danial Lanois' studio in New Orleans, Fight Songs might disappoint older fans with its pop direction. But songs like "Crash on the Barrelhead"--with its hilariously nasty fuzz guitar bit--show that the boys still got the country thing down. Lyrically, there's a lot of material to drink beer and stew about. They also deliver the goods live. See them Monday, Feb. 7, at the Cat's Cradle. Call 967-9053 for details. --Angie Carlson

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