The new album from the Old 97's shows you don't have to be young and stupid to make great rock 'n' roll. Being middle-aged can work, too.
At 43, frontman Rhett Miller might be old enough to remember Chico Escuela. "Rock 'n' roll's been very, very good to me," he sings. "Most Messed Up" is a concept album, that rarity in these days of downloads, and Miller's exuberant embrace of excess and escapism makes for 12 terrific tunes. Guitarist Ken Bethea's cheerfully frantic fret work helps establish the mood, and with ex-Replacement Tommy Stinson sitting in, several songs sound like 'Mats outtakes. (The band hits Salt Lake City on May 15 for a show at the Urban Lounge.)