Thursday, 29 September 2016

American Band

American Band, is the 11th studio album by one of the best and still unheralded bands in America, Drive-By Truckers.

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Consisting of a five piece with duelling compositions by Mike Cooley and Patterson Hood; the band is one of those spit and sawdust bands you imagine exist in every bar in the Southern states of America. And yet the older they have got as a band, the better they have become as a unit but also as a voice of the disillusioned masses.

The bands writing has consistently had a great sense of story and narrative, one of this reviewer's favourite albums of the 21st century remains Brighter Than Creation's Dark, which consisted of such fables as 'Two Daughters and a Beautiful Wife', 'Three Dimes Down' and 'Monument Valley'.

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When Drive-By Truckers released their first single of the album 'Surrender Under Protest', the point was made by Patterson Hood in a statement:  

"These are crazy times and we have made a record steeped in this moment of history that we're all trying to live through. We've always considered ourselves a political band, even when that aspect seemed to be concealed by some type of narrative device i.e. dealing with issues of race by telling a story set in the time of George Wallace or class struggles by setting "Putting People of the Moon" in the age of Reagan.

This time out, there are no such diversions as these songs are mostly set front and center in the current political arena with songs dealing with our racial and cultural divisions, gun violence, mass shootings and political assholery. Once again, there is a nearly even split between the songs of Cooley and myself, with both of us bringing in songs that seem to almost imply a conversation between us about our current place in time."

The band are celebrating their 20th anniversary with the release of this album, and it can be interpreted that the album is a call to arms about the way the world is but also a sense of America coming to terms with not being the biggest noise in the room anymore, a realisation that the country's time is passing with the possible calamity of a Donald Trump presidency mere months away.

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The album has the usual bombast and rock and roll guitars from the opening riffs of 'Ramon Casiano', but there is more subdued tone in the lyrics from the lead single of 'Surrender Under Protest' to the wrenching 'Guns of Umpqua' to the reflective 'Once They Banned Imagine'

Cooley and Hood's vocals are great to hear as they mix maturity with the ever optimistic streak throughout their oral history, yet there is still that sense of a moment passing by and of America changing in this current political climate.

'I might get better when the sun don't shine,
Much rather watch the clouds go by'
- 'When the Sun Don't Shine'

The album is a must for all Americana fans and those who love the sound of riffing guitars be it from Neil Young or Bruce Springsteen; this album packs a direct punch and will get your toes tapping quicker than a line dancing contest.


1)      Ramon Casiano
2)      Darkened Flags on the Cusp of Dawn
3)      Surrender Under Protest
4)      Guns of Umpqua
5)      Filthy and Fried
6)      When the Sun Don’t Shine
7)      Kinky Hypocrites
8)      Ever South
9)      What It Means
10)    Once They Banned Imagine
11)    Baggage

American Band by Drive-By Truckers is released by ATO Records on 30th September 2016

Catch the band on tour
Follow them on Twitter @drivebytruckers

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