alt-country for me
own nothing by these guys, but each time I hear them they get better
some more plays would certainly up this score
Grade - 1.8
released Feb 15th, 2011
from the album - Everybody Needs Love - 1.5
from all music
Flaunting a mix of Southern pride, erudite lyrics, and a muscled three-guitar attack, Drive-By Truckers became one of the most well-respected alternative country-rock acts of the 2000s. Led by frontman Patterson Hood and featuring a rotating cast of Georgia and Alabama natives, the band celebrated the South while refusing to paint over its spotty past. History, folklore, politics, and character studies all shared equal space in the Truckers catalog, which offered up its first blast of gutsy, twangy rock with 1998's Gangstabilly. However, it was the band's ambitious double-disc concept album, The Southern Rock Opera, that became its unlikely magnum opus. A two-act affair, the album explored Hood's fascination with 1970s Southern rock (specifically Lynyrd Skynyrd) while tackling the cultural contradictions of the region, and it helped lay the groundwork for much of the band's subsequent work.
In 1985, college friends Mike Cooley and Patterson Hood (whose father, David Hood, was a Muscle Shoals session player whose bass can be heard on the Staple Singers' "I'll Take You There") formed a punk-inspired band named Adam's House Cat. The group disbanded six years later, and Cooley and Hood launched several follow-up projects before moving to different cities. They eventually reconvened in Athens, GA, where the duo formed Drive-By Truckers in 1996. Gangstabilly announced the band's official debut in 1998, while Pizza Deliverance saw Cooley emerging as a competent songwriter. (The sonic contrast between Cooley and Hood's songs, as well as those compositions written by members Rob Malone, Shonna Tucker, and Jason Isbell, would soon prove to be one of the Truckers' strongest assets.) In 2000, the band documented its strength as a live act with Alabama Ass Whuppin', a concert recording taken from a show in Athens.
The vision for Drive-By Truckers' heralded rock opera took shape as Hood began to address his own Southern roots. Recorded during a September heat wave in Birmingham, AL -- and boasting the band's three-guitar attack (à la Skynyrd) -- the album veered from nervy, powerful rock & roll to a bruised, jagged tone that recalled Neil Young & Crazy Horse. It was also an underground success, receiving a four-star rating from Rolling Stone and catching the ear of roots rock label Lost Highway, which reissued the album in 2002. Unfortunately for the label, many people who would have otherwise purchased the album already owned a copy; unfortunately for the Truckers, they were released from their contract just as their first album for Lost Highway was finished. After several months of between-label limbo, the band was picked up by New West Records, a Texas-based label that released Decoration Day in mid-2003. The album featured several songs by newcomer Jason Isbell, a young singer/guitarist who had replaced Rob Malone two years prior.
Touring and further lineup changes followed the album's release, with bassist Earl Hicks departing and studio musician Shonna Tucker (who was also Isbell's wife) climbing aboard to join Hood, Cooley, Isbell, and drummer Brad Morgan. The new lineup made its debut on 2004's The Dirty South, a concept album that spun Southern tales of small towns, violent sheriffs, and legendary record producers. A concert DVD, Live at the 40 Watt: August 27 & 28, 2004, arrived in 2005, followed one year later by Isbell's final album with the group, A Blessing and a Curse. In light of Isbell's decision to quit the band in favor of a solo career, pedal steel guitarist John Neff officially joined in 2007, having contributed to several Drive-By Truckers albums in the past. Brighter Than Creation's Dark introduced the revised lineup in 2008; additionally, it showcased Shonna Tucker's abilities as a songwriter, marking the first time that any of the bassist's contributions had appeared on record. Drive-By Truckers returned to the road that summer to support the record's release.
Although the band remained on tour well into 2009, the Truckers also found time to release their second concert album, Live from Austin TX, as well as a collection of unreleased material entitled The Fine Print: A Collection of Oddities and Rarities. Patterson Hood rounded out the year by issuing his second solo record, Murdering Oscar (And Other Love Songs), although 2010 and 2011 found him returning to the fold for Drive-By Truckers' eighth and ninth studio albums, The Big To-Do and Go-Go Boots.
The Drive-By Truckers are a band that likes to do things the old-fashioned way. They proudly proclaim that they record their music "on glorious two-inch analog tape," they still think in terms of albums with two (or four) sides, and their sound is firmly rooted in the traditions of Southern rock and the blues. They also hark back to a time when rock bands made an album every year followed by a tour, and if the DBTs haven't quite held firm to that schedule, since they broke through with Southern Rock Opera in 2001, they've managed to release six studio albums, a live CD/DVD, another DVD-only live set, and a collection of rarities and unreleased tracks, all while keeping up a demanding touring schedule. Any band that busy is likely to believe it deserves a rest every once in a while, and in a sense, 2011's Go-Go Boots feels a little bit like a working vacation. The album is notably short on full-blown rockers and sounds scaled back from the three-guitar attack that's been their hallmark, often dominated by acoustic guitars and the muffled but determined report of Brad Morgan's drums. The songs also find the band going back to the well on themes it has visited before -- the man of the Lord with a broad but carefully hidden streak of corruption in The Big To-Do's "The Wig He Made Her Wear" foreshadowed not one but two songs here, "The Fireplace Poker" and the title track, and the damaged ex-cop of "Used to Be a Cop" feels like a cousin to the haunted war veteran of Brighter Than Creation's Dark's "That Man I Shot." But none of this adds up to an album that's at all lazy. The craft of Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley's songwriting is as strong as ever, drawing believable characters and giving them lives that make dramatic sense, and Shonna Tucker just keeps getting better with the graceful and hard-edged "Dancin' Ricky." And if the music on Go-Go Boots is less physical than what the Drive-By Truckers typically deliver, it's emphatic and passionate, with an impressive sense of dynamics and as much soul as these folks have ever summoned in the studio -- they've rocked a lot harder, but they've never cut a more natural and telling groove. There are moments where Go-Go Boots recalls Exile on Main St., another album that makes much out of feel and the way musicians play off one another, and if this isn't as likely to be regarded as a masterpiece, it's also less self-obsessive, and reveals some sides of the Drive-By Truckers the band hasn't captured in the studio before. After ten years of hard work, the DBTs are still learning, still growing, and still feeling out new ideas, and on Go-Go Boots they show that even when they're relaxed, they're still one of America's best bands.
1 I Do Believe Hood 3:31
2 Go-Go Boots Hood 5:36
3 Dancin' Ricky Tucker 3:26
4 Cartoon Gold Cooley 3:13
5 Ray's Automatic Weapon Hood 4:25
6 Everybody Needs Love Hinton 4:35
7 Assholes Hood 4:39
8 The Weakest Man Cooley 3:19
9 Used to Be a Cop Hood 7:03
10 The Fireplace Poker Hood 8:14
11 Where's Eddie Fritts, Hinton 3:01
12 The Thanksgiving Filter Hood 5:34
13 Pulaski Cooley 4:24
14 Mercy Buckets Hood 5:24