In The Battle For Area Alt-Country Supremacy, Who Wins? The Old 97's or Slobberbone?

slobberboneold97s.jpg
Slobberbone and the Old 97's
Here's the deal: Slobberbone and the Old 97's both arrived on the scene at right around the same time in the 90's, and, though Brent Best and Co. took some time off to focus on other projects in recent years (read: The Drams), both bands are once again currently active.

The 97's just released their second phenomenal effort in as many years, and Slobberbone is apparently in the studio themselves, working on their own comeback release.

So now seems like as good of a time as any to decide which of these two legendary local acts is the top dog of regional alt-country. Let's forget for the moment that only half of the Old 97s currently live in Texas. Let's take this step by step.

Best Album
Old 97's: Too Far to Care
Slobberbone: Barrel Chested
Too Far to Care is the best album -- and by a wide margin -- that the Old 97's have ever made. Slobberbone, meanwhile, has made two pretty great ones: Barrel Chested and Everything You Thought Was Right Was Wrong Today. Neither of them has as many great songs, start to finish, as Too Far, though.
Winner: Old 97's

Best Song
Old 97's: "Timebomb"
Slobberbone: "Whiskey Glass Eye"
When I first heard "Timebomb," it was in the movie Clay Pigeons, and it gave me goosebumps. The song just fit the opening of that film so well. Rhett Miller has never sang better than when he shouts out "Oh Celeste" as the song ends. "Whiskey Glass Eye," however, is the best song Paul Westerberg never wrote. And that's saying something.
Winner: Slobberbone

Best Songwriter
Old 97's: Rhett Miller
Slobberbone: Brent Best
Both Rhett and Brent Best are both quality songwriters, but Best has never written anything as trivial as Miller's "Oppenheimer." That song is embarrassing.
Winner: Slobberbone

Best Bassist
Old 97's: Murry Hammond
Slobberbone: Brian Lane
Murry Hammond not only plays a mean bass, but, now that we think of it, he also might be the best songwriter in Old 97s.
Winner: Old 97's

Best Drummer
Old 97's: Philip Peeples
Slobberbone: Tony Harper
Pebbles is a machine behind the drum kit. He's not flashy. He just gets the job done.
Winner: Old 97's

Best Guitarist
Old 97's: Ken Bethea
Slobberbone: Jess Barr
Slobberbone's two guitarists pack more of a punk punch than Miller and Bethea do. They look cooler, too.
Winner: Slobberbone

Looks pretty much like a tie, right?

Other factors to consider: 1) Old 97s have much more of a national recognition factor, but the Slobberbone crowd is cooler; 2) Rhett Miller is better looking, but Brent Best could kick his ass; and 3) Old 97's have two good songwriters who have basically doubled the output of Brent Best and crew.

But this isn't about which band has the most albums. And we can't just call this thing a tie, now, can we?

No. So, let's figure this out, then, by determining which band has put out a better percentage of good music. There, Slobberbone clearly wins. Tie goes to them.

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24 comments
Johnnylaw
Johnnylaw

"BOTH Rhett and Brent Best are BOTH quality songwriters, but Best has never written anything as trivial as Miller's "Oppenheimer." That song is embarrassing."Darryl, you are obviously not qualified to criticize these two gentlemen who have devoted their life to the craft of song-writing.You must have some personal agenda. Otherwise why would you even write such a pointless piece?This article is embarrassing.

me
me

it's like comparing Neil Young to Buddy Holly ... now really, our music would not be the same without BOTH of their contributions, so when did art and music become an olympic competition with only one gold medal winner ???

Citizen Polack
Citizen Polack

Strange (and not the most well-written) article but a topic close to my heart. These bands are compared only because of timing and geography. I like both, but I own albums by and attend shows by Slobberbone for a variety of reasons. The O97...s are at heart a pop band with a twang, and SB is a rock and roll band with it's soul in the American heartland. Balls and a sense of humor go a long way with me....And have you watched Tony Harper play the drums?

Is the Observer taking applications for music writers?!?

Dave_little
Dave_little

Next time, let's point/counterpoint the Drams versus the Ranchero Brothers.

Brentbest
Brentbest

Agreed.  Stupidest article ever.

Katecovington
Katecovington

Stupidest article ever.  But no, Mike Hill was out before either of the S'Bone albums mentioned here.

rockybaboon
rockybaboon

I've always said it~If I were a meterosexual cowboy, Old 97s would be may favorite. If I wanted to take a sorority girl to a non-threatening live show, it would be the Old 97s.If I wanted to see a decent band and enjoy myself, I would see Slobberbone.

me
me

and I like chocolate cake AND cherry pie .... can't say which one I like BEST ...

Michael Alves
Michael Alves

Don't forget that Mike Hill played lead on most of the Slobberbone recordings you mention in this article. 

Michael Alves
Michael Alves

Don't forget that Mike Hill played lead on most of the Slobberbone recordings you mention in this article. If you are going to rate the bands against one another, you should rate all the players.

Darryl
Darryl

me, too. believe me.

Chris Mayes
Chris Mayes

This article makes me really nervous for reasons I can't quite identify.

Darryl
Darryl

I have absolutely no agenda. As a matter of fact, I should be biased towards the Old 97's. Murry I and went to the sme high school and he was the best man at my own wedding. I like the Old 97s and I like Slobberbone and I thought it would be fun (and provocative) to compare the two bands. It's a small version of the Nirvana vs. Pearl Jam debate that always seems to raging somewhere. (The winner is Nirvana by the way.) But in the end, I put my personal alliances aside and picked which band I'd rather listen to on a 45 minute drive. And it would not be any cd with "Oppenheimer" on it.

Darryl
Darryl

yes, and I'd rather listen to neil young.

Darryl
Darryl

gotta love constructive criticism. i am impressed this douche has read every article ever written!

Darryl
Darryl

of course, they are both great bands. but they are certainly comparable.

Paco
Paco

look at this guy

Paul Burrough
Paul Burrough

It's like comparing Rodney Dangerfield and Don Rickles.

Dave_little
Dave_little

the caveat "which band would you listen to on a 45 minute drive?" is much more appealing, to me, than which band is better.

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