A man, weíll put him at 64, sits on a rocking chair on his front porch. His grandkids sit in front of him as he tells them story about the bloodiest of wars. In one hand he holds a 5th of jack. In the other, a shotgun. A man drives by in a pick-up truck, blasting punk music. The grandfather shoots him in the head with the shotgun. His blood covers the asphalt. The children listen for their story to end.
This scene may or may not be Drive-By Truckers singer Patterson Hoodís childhood in Alabama, but itís what I picture every time I listen to his band. The DBT hold a strange place in my heart since when my dad first threw their gritty Lynrd Skynyrd worshiping third album Southern Rock Opera
on our road trip to Vermont. Oddly enough when I listen to DBTs today I hear one simple sentence.
Forget Lynyrd Skynrd.
Iím sure this is not what their music is supposed to say, but it gets the message across pretty well. DBTís newest, The Dirty South, paints a picture of the south that Lynyrd could not even dream of pulling off. The album centers on a crunchy 3 guitar attack and Pattersonís unmistakable rasp. The bass and drums are decent, but fall short of some of the albums high marks. Patterson sings about everything from Nascar (Daddyís Cup) to suicide (Lookout Mountain) the lyrics are clever and depressing. They can put a fire inside you that may never go out.
ďUsed to have a wad of hundred dollar bills in the back pocket of my suit
I had a .45 underneath my coat and another one in my boot
I drove a big ole Cadillac, bought a new one anytime I pleased
And I put more lawmen in the ground than Alabama put cottonseed"
Pattersonís voice fits these lyrics only far too well. It rasps, shouts and screams in pain. The albumís poppiest moment too no surprise is itís worst. We Ainít never Gonna Change, the albumís only single, is a fistful of sloppy southern pride. The lyrics are fairly simple and some of the worst DBT ever wrote. This is why people hate the south.
On the other side of things comes an epic tale of life in the south. Where the Devil Donít Stay is the perfect choice for an opening track. The song begins calm and shifty, but soon changes into a heavy cry for help. The lyrics are based on a poem by Ed Cooley with music written by the Truckers. Along with Where the Devil this album has itís share of genius tracks. Danko/Manuel, The Day John Henry Died and Carl Perkinís Caddilac are fairly mellow country rock tracks that tell incredible stories. For a teenager whoís idea of the south is Orlando, Drive-By paint a pictue that he will never forget. Carl Perkins is a tale of early rock & roll. Perkins steals money from Johnny Cash's royalties to fufill his life time dreams of owning a Cadillac. who would sell himself to a record company just to fulfill his life dream of owning a Cadillac. The Day John H. Died is a retelling of an old folk tale about the strongest railroad track layer in the south attempting to save the jobs of his friends and family by beating a machine in a track laying race.
Three guitars can often be a curse to a band, but the really special ones use all three axe-man to their advantage. Like their biggest influences Lynyrd Skynrd before them, The Drive-By Truckerís three guitar attack is amazingly accurate. The guitars always have distinct parts or tones, the solos while short and sparse are well thought out and the guitars are never too loud.
So you may be reading this review over and thinking to yourself, what does a dead punk have to do with anything the Drive-By Truckers play? Well, in a time where post-emo crap and the dreaded pop-punk control what used to be musicís most rebellious genre, This album is one of the most punk CDs of the past few years. The Drive-By Truckerís sound took my two years to get into so it pains me to say that, but listen to it and realize the truth. DBT intense and refreshing take on tired genres will leave you hungry for more. The Drive-by Truckers sound will remain fresh for years and years to come like canned soup and will always be refreshing like Jack Daniels on a hot southern night.
Great Lyrics and Vocals
Rhythm section is lacking