Dallas’ Old 97’s announce new studio album, “American Primitive”

Standing in front of a painted wall, the Old 97s face the camera

Old 97’s
Photo: Jason Quigley

November will mark three decades since beloved Dallas band Old 97’s released its debut album, Hitchhike to Rhome.

What better way to mark such an anniversary than by releasing a new studio album?

The 97’s have announced the April 5 release of their 13th record, American Primitive, via ATO Records. Per press materials, the title was inspired by author Stephen King’s novel “Duma Key,” which makes King recently tweeting out news of the record — scooping everyone in the process — a lot less bizarre than it initially seemed.

The 13-track LP features the names you know and love — Rhett Miller, Ken Bethea, Murry Hammond, and Philip Peeples — and was produced by Tucker Martine during sessions in Portland, Oregon. Primitive also features cameos from Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey, and the album’s cover art was painted by none other than Hammond’s 14-year-old son Tex.

Buck, late of R.E.M., features on the album’s lead single, “Where the Road Goes.”

“Over the last year of touring in celebration of our 30th anniversary, it’s been impossible not to feel some emotion welling up at the idea that my bandmates and I have been in this close brotherhood for so long,” Miller said in a statement. “I think a lot of that longevity has to do with the fact that we’re really the same band we were back then. We’ve experimented with pushing in different directions, and we’ve had experiences outside the band where we’ve learned new things, but the way we approach this music has fundamentally remained the same. Our heart is still in the exact same place.”

The 97’s will again hit the road this year, starting April 3 in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and continuing through April 21. No local dates have yet been announced, but it’s highly likely Miller and the fellas will find their way to some stage in North Texas before 2024 is all said and done.

Preston Jones is a North Texas freelance writer and regular contributor to KXT. Email him at [email protected] or find him on X (@prestonjones). Our work is made possible by our generous, music-loving members. If you like how we lift up local music, consider becoming a KXT sustaining member right here.