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The Daily Tar Heel

Music Review: Drive-By Truckers


For the Drive-By Truckers, the southern thing is both an identity and an industry.

By mixing deep-fried rock ‘n’ roll with masterful storytelling and redneck apocrypha, the Athens, Ga.-based musicians keep turning out one awesome album after another.

It’s as if the hallowed corpse of William Faulkner wouldn’t stop begetting little children on the equally hallowed, if womb-less corpse of Ronnie van Zant. That’s how prolific and creepy the group can be, and also how brilliant.

On Go-Go Boots, the Truckers’ ninth studio album, the band delves deep into the ethos of the long lost rhythm section.

Though it represents a bit of a departure from its widely recognizable brand in terms of sound, it certainly doesn’t in terms of quality.

Front man Patterson Hood’s father, David Hood, is a member of the legendary Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, so the Truckers’ session heritage is strong.

When the band taps these roots on Go-Go Boots, the results are both groovy and explosive.

“Used To Be A Cop,” for instance, sounds like it was recorded by a rhythm section on crystal meth. It’s got a droning backbeat behind a menacing story of a troubled, divorced ex-cop.

It’s characteristic of Hood’s songwriting pathos that he can make us sympathize with a brutalizer of both wife and citizenry, all by reminding us of his subject’s frustrated ambitions to play college football.

Hood sings for the sorry fictional form with no voice of his own, “Police Academy gave me the only thing I was ever good at/But my temper and the shakes and they took that thing away,” as if the guy’s life is so rough that he can’t bother finishing his thoughts coherently.

Another of the album’s gems, “Everybody Needs Love,” is a direct product of the rhythm section sound.

Here, Patterson sings blue-eyed soul that could give Motown a run for its money.

The duality of the “Southern thing” has infinite iterations for the Truckers: black and white, heaven and hell, blessings and curses, God and dog.

God and dog? Well, as guitarist Mike Cooley sings on this album, some things are just like “bringing flowers to your mama and tracking dog shit all over the floor.” “Jesus made the flowers,” he sardonically concludes, “but it took a dog to make the story good.”

And that right there says more about the Truckers’ songwriting and literary aspirations than I ever could.

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