The Dallas-based Old 97's have just released a new record, "Fight Songs," on which the band eschews some of its alt. country roots for a more melodic-based sound, evoking the Smiths crossed with Freedy Johnston.Thanks in part to its catchy new single, "Murder (Or a Heart Attack)," the group is beginning to generate a buzz on alternative radio, and the band also made its network TV debut earlier this week when it performed the song on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien." In spite of the mysterious and rather ominous tone of the lyrics to "Murder (Or a Heart Attack)," the Old 97's recently told MTV that the song isn't actually about a missing person, but about the disappearance of a household pet. "Originally, I wasn't going to be allowed to tell the story of the song," explained Old 97's frontman Rhett Miller, "because,
hopefully there's text and subtext [to the song]. But the text, if you will, is about a cat. It [tells] how I come home and my roommate has got the back door open, which means that the cat has escaped through the hole in the screen because he's an idiot... and didn't close the screen, and now the cat is gone.""So the back door's open, and I'm sad, because that means the cat's gone," he continued, "but Ken [Bethea, the guitarist] begged me not to tell the story. He was like 'Man, everybody's gonna think its stupid if you talk about how [the song] is about a cat.' And that's true. But my whole argument is that it sounds like it's about a cat, so... " "It's good because it's real deceptive," added bassist Murry Hammond. "It
sounds like it's about
a lost lover or something.""But the cat did come back," [RealAudio] Miller said. Miller will have to find someone else to look after his fussy feline when the Old 97's head out on the road next week for a month-long tour beginning on May 20 in Lawrence, Kansas.