I guess this must have slipped us by, but a few weeks ago Rhett Miller announced he'd be releasing his third solo album June 9th on Shout! Factory. Always breaking the news, we are. Anywho, this time Rhett's doing the eponymous thing, warts and all, and not sticking to his usual theme of sticking a "The" in his album titles (2002's The Instigator and 06's The Believer.) We found out via Rhett's Twitter last night that the album's presumable first single, "I Need To Know Where I Stand" was freshly posted on his Myspace, so we quickly checked it out and -- surprise! -- it sounds like everything else the man's ever done. Not that there's anything wrong with that. We're all huge fans of Rhett and the Old 97's, so it's no surprise the tune's been on repeat throughout the day. It's a breezy pop song with an infectious chorus, most closely resembling The Instigator and parts of the 97's Satellite Rides. The song's for stream above, and lots more information about the album can be found after the jump.
Huge news! Rhett will be releasing a collection of new songs on June 9th, his fourth solo album and the first on Shout! Factory. The self-titled album will thrill fans with an up-close and personal journey through Rhett’s dark heart and complicated mind - all set to the kind of rollicking tunes for which he’s known. The album is the darkest of Rhett’s deep catalog of releases, and is a personal triumph both lyrically and sonically.
My approach to songwriting has always been to take a heavy subject and put it to a bouncy tune. This record takes that trick to the next level. Don’t get me wrong, there are some rays of sunshine on the album, but there is a lot of deep night. The death of my grandmother, the suicide of my hero, David Foster Wallace. In my head, I was sort of in a dark place when I made this record. It’s still a fun record to listen to. It’s a fine line you gotta walk, right?
Rhett penned all the songs on the record with the exception of “If It’s Not Love,” which was co-written with Matt Scannell. Rhett Miller was produced by Salim Nourallah, who also produced the latest critically acclaimed Old 97’s release, 2008’s Blame It On Gravity. The exciting new 12-song set also features multi-instrumentalist and producer, Jon Brion on guitar and bass, The Apples In Stereo’s John Dufilho on drums and Billy Harvey on guitar. While speaking to Billboard Magazine about the album, Rhett stated “Every musician I hired was a producer. All these people could have easily produced this record themselves.” While the album was initially planned as a stripped-down, acoustic record, with the help of his stellar backing band, it quickly turned into one of huge sonic scope.
Of the album’s most rocking track, Rhett says:
"Happy Birthday Don’t Die” came to me in a fevered rush the morning before I headed to Texas to make the record. The whole story was there in my head when I woke up. This weird sci-fi portrait of a little old lady buried in the catacombs of some colony planet celebrating her one-hundredth birthday by dying. Writing that song was like speaking in tongues, very strange. Not all the songs on the album are so far-flung, "Sometimes" came out of hearing my two-year-old daughter singing to herself in her crib one morning. I took her little tune and fleshed it out into first a chorus and then a whole song.
Elsewhere on the album, one finds the quirky details that are a hallmark of Rhett’s songwriting. The “comedy club” in “I Need To Know Where I Stand” sounds suspiciously similar to LA’s famed Café Largo where Rhett has played regularly over the years. In the same song, we find “the Hamlet of Wallkill,” a town in the Hudson Valley near where the song’s author resides. But it’s the simple statements of grand truths that set this album apart from Rhett’s earlier work. Take, for instance, the following line from “Like Love.” “We are all alone in this world/from cradle to grave/and maybe after that.” A bitter little sentiment, but dropped into the middle of a fun, foot-stomper of a song, it’s a testament to the years Rhett has spent honing his craft.
For those who don't know Rhett as well, while maintaining his career with the Old 97’s, Austin-born Rhett has also released three previous solo albums, Mythologies, recorded during his junior year in high school and produced by future Old 97’s co-founder, Murry Hammond, in 1989, 2002’s The Instigator, and The Believer in 2006. While based in Dallas, Rhett and Murry formed Old 97’s in 1993. With their effortless combination of rock, power-pop and country, the band quickly became one of the most acclaimed and beloved bands to spring from the 90s indie rock scene. They have released seven powerhouse studio albums to date.
Well-known as an explosive live act both solo and with the band, Rhett and the Old 97’s will be on tour throughout the summer and fall. Many of these shows will be billed as “An Evening With…,” and will feature an opening solo set by Rhett during which he will perform songs from the new album and favorites from his solo catalog.
Rhett Miller Track Listing:
1. Noboby Says I Love You Anymore
2. Like Love
4. I Need to Know Where I Stand
5. Happy Birthday Don’t Die
8. If It’s Not Love
9. Another Girlfriend
10. Refusing Temptation
Upcoming Rhett Miller live performances - many more TBA:
March 24th - Solana Beach, CA Belly Up
March 26th - Los Angeles, CA Largo
March 27th - Redondo Beach, CA Brixton South Bay
March 28th - Santa Cruz, CA Crepe Place
March 29th - San Francisco, CA Yoshi’s
April 11th - Ithaca, NY Castaways
April 16th - New York, NY Le Poisson Rouge
May 1st - Red Bank, NJ Count Basie Theatre - Writers in the Raw w/ David Johansen of the New York Dolls, Alec Ounsworth of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and others.
May 13th - Northampton, MA Iron Horse
May 14th - Boston, MA The Paradise