Drive-By Truckers: American Band
Release Date: September 30, 2016American Band track listing:
Label: ATO Records (AT0)
Total Length: 46:41
09/29 - Seattle, WA - Showbox*
09/30 - Portland, OR - Wonder Ballroom*
10/01 - Portland, OR - Wonder Ballroom*
10/02 - Vancouver, BC - Rickshaw Theater*
10/05 - Sacramento, CA - Ace of Spades*
10/06-10/07 - San Francisco, CA - Fillmore*
10/08 - Lake Tahoe, CA - Montbleau*
10/11-10/12 - Los Angeles, CA - Teragram*
10/13 - Solana Beach, CA - Belly Up Tavern*
10/14 - San Luis Obispo, CA - Fremont Theater*
10/15 - Scottsdale, AZ - Livewire*
11/02 - Louisville, KY - Headliners Music Hall #
11/03 - Knoxville, TN - The Mill & Mine #
11/04-11/05 - Asheville, NC - The Orange Peel #
11/09 - Philadelphia, PA - Union Transfer #
11/10-11/11 - Richmond, VA - The National #
11/12 - Charlotte, NC - The Fillmore #
11/13 - Charleston, SC - Charleston Music Hall #
11/15 - Ft. Lauderdale, FL - Culture Room #
11/16 - Tampa, FL - Tampa Theatre #
11/27 - Macon, GA - Cox Capital Theater #
11/18 - Tuscaloosa, AL - Druid City Music Hall #
11/19 - Atlanta, GA - Tabernacle #
* w/ Lydia Loveless
# w/ Kyle Craft
On September 30, 2016, the Drive-By Truckers will release their 11th studio album,American Band. This album follows 2014’s English Oceans, and was recorded at Nashville’s Sound Emporium with the band’s longtime producer and engineer David Barbe at the helm.
The band has always been political, although, as they have pointed out, in the past they’ve gotten their point across by way of symbolism and narrative devices. The realism on this record is what sets it apart from previous Drive-By Truckers releases. All the cards are on the table, laid out for us to see clearly. These songs paint a vivid picture of current times in our country. Issues such as race, censorship, the NRA, police brutality, war, suicide and drug abuse are discussed by way of song.
American Band could not have come at a better time; the band made it a point for the record to be released at the pinnacle of the 2016 election season.
And just so you know, the Drive-By Truckers are not afraid to alienate some of their fans.
Patterson Hood says: “I don’t want there to be any doubt as to which side of this discussion we fall on. I don’t want there to be any misunderstanding of where we stand. If you don’t like it, you can leave. It’s okay. We’re not trying to be everybody’s favorite band, we’re going to be who we are and do what we do and anyone who’s with us, we’d love to have them join in.”
It would be a good thing if every American voter got a chance to listen to this record between its September 30th release and election day, because this music has the potential to get people to open their eyes and really see and give a damn about what’s going on in this country. Maybe it will even inspire people to do some thorough soul-searching before they cast their vote.
Singer/guitarists Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley take turns writing and singing lead more or less song for song on American Band. This album fully spans the range from rock to country to honky tonk music. A political thread weaves all of these songs together into a cohesive whole.
The entire album is excellent- this is after all the Drive-By Truckers we’re talking about- but there were a few songs that particularly stood out for me.
Darkened Flags delves into the Drive-By Truckers’ rock roots. It has a straight-ahead beat and a driving, churning rock guitar hook that is just perfect. Patterson Hood sings lead on this powerhouse.
Surrender Under Protest is another rocker, featuring vocals by Mike Cooley. This song is anthemic in its scope, sporting choir-like backing vocals with a rallying cry of: “Compelled but not defeated / surrender under protest if you must.”
DBT has a wry sense of humor and they always come up with the best song titles; Kinky Hypocrite is no exception. This is a piano-driven, full on honky tonk song. I can picture the men and women dancing in a dive bar in their expensive suits with their flashy rings and their booze. This is an upbeat, humorous protest song about evangelists doing things they don’t want you to know about. The line: “the greatest separators of fools from their money / party harder than they’d like to admit” is brilliant.
Ever South features Patterson Hood’s classic, earnest twang. Matt Patton lays down a bold, rumbling bass line in a nice interplay with Brad Morgan’s minimalist drumming. What I took away from this song is that you can’t escape your roots, so you might as well embrace them.
What It Means is my favorite song on the album. It offers the perfect summation of what’s going on in our country: “there’s no sunlight in our asses and our heads are stuck up in it.”
The sound of Jay Gonzalez’s keyboard is glorious; just a hair short of holy.
Patterson Hood’s lyrics mention a shooting in Florida, and at first I had to ask myself, “which one?” Recently I saw a documentary about the shooting in Jacksonville, FL of an unarmed black teen named Jordan Davis. The man who pulled the trigger was Michael Dunn, a white adult. The line about the Skittles in the boy’s pocket made me realize that Hood is talking about Trayvon Martin, but it was disconcerting to realize that this sort of thing has become so commonplace that I would have to ask which one.
Patterson Hood wrote Baggage the night comedian Robin Williams’ died by his own hand. The songwriter empathizes with those who suffer from mood swings and personal demons. He pays tribute to his fallen hero and also offers a better way to deal with troubling emotions; by letting go of your personal baggage and finding an outlet for your frustrations; “Toss it in the river and be free.”
The Drive-By Truckers come right out and say what they mean because the present times call for it. We are at a precarious impasse in our nation’s history. The band knows it; now they want to make sure we know it too.
The Darkened Flags 2016 tour began in August and continues until late November.