Fire Note Says: Politically charged album from one of America’s best bands!
Album Review: It has been said that the only two things in life you can count on are death and taxes. Well I’m saying there are at least three things, death, taxes, and Drive-By Truckers. The band is back with their newest album, American Band, and to the surprise of no one, it’s good, damn good. The album is sequenced in such a way so that it feels like a back and forth between the two main songwriters, Mike Cooley and Patterson Hood. Cooley has the majority of the harder rockers, such as album opener “Ramon Casiano” and “Surrender Under Protest”, and it’s quite clear that he’s pretty pissed off at the state America is in right now. Hood mines the same sweet spot musically that he has been hitting on the past few DBT albums and on his on excellent solo album, Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance. Hood’s songs are slower and more somber in tone, and provide an excellent counter balance to the fiery Cooley tracks. Hood’s “Guns of Umpqua” has my vote for most powerful and devastating song of the year, and is one of the finest tracks the band has ever recorded.
The band really seems to have found a new energy that started with 2014’s English Oceans and has carried on through last year’s massive triple live lp It’s Great to Be Alive, and now with American Band. It’s no secret that the band went through a number of lineup changes in the past decade, but the band right now, is firing on all cylinders once again. Patterson Hood gets a lot of the attention, and has often been seen by many as the leader of the band, but Cooley has really stepped up his songwriting and playing, and the band is at its absolute best when the two are on equal footing, playing off of each other’s styles and personality. They really push each other, and American Band sounds like they are really getting off on each other’s songs and trying to outdo the other, pushing the band to greatness at the same time.
American Band is not only one of the finest albums of the year; it’s also one of the most important. Give it a listen!
Key Tracks: “Guns of Umpqua” / “Surrender Under Protest” / “Ramon Casiano”
Artists With Similar Fire: Slobberbone / Dexateens / Son Volt
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– Reviewed by Kevin Poindexter