Drive-By Truckers’ new album is ‘American Band.’ It’s the 11th studio album from the veteran Southern rock band and their first since ‘English Oceans’ of 2014. The music critics are weighing in and you can see a roundup of reviews right here.
Co-founded by Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley in 1996 om Athens, Georgia, Drive-By Truckers have endured and survived multiple lineup changes. Their most recent album, ‘English Oceans,’ won nearly universal critical acclaim and reached No. 20 on the Billboard 200, their highest charting album to date.
Throughout their career, there’s been a constant; DBT have never shied from controversy or from politics. This is all the more true this time around with ‘American Band.’ In that sense it lives up to its title, and one can see in the songs snapshots of the state of the nation, divisive politics and all.
One song in particular, has been drawing notice, ‘What It Means.’ At the risk of polarizing their fan base, Drive-By Truckers have taken on the topic of police brutality and Black Lives Matter movement. It’s a song that’s literally ripped from the headlines as these stories of police shootings, protests, riots, and violence have become so recurrent in the country. There’s been some backlash in social media as some fans have accused the band of caving to political correctness.
Mike Cooley, acknowledged this, telling Rolling Stone,”What It Means'” is a song I wrote a couple of years ago protesting the Ferguson decision and the Trayvon Martin killing…Unfortunately, the song is still timely today. I hope and pray that one day it won’t be.”
Now, as the album arrives in full the critics have been weighing in on the music itself and its varied and unavoidable political statements. Here’s a roundup of reviews.
“…. The Confederate flag, Iraq, the NRA, immigration hysteria and other hot buttons are pushed, but Hood and fellow songwriter Mike Cooley rarely go in for sloganeering. Instead, they use empathy, vivid storytelling and subtle imagery to unpack brutal complexities…..” –Rolling Stone
“….American Band lives up to its name in how it digests, understands and challenges the notions of what it means to be American. In short, it’s complicated. In the band’s ambition to be current, to speak hard truths without metaphorical tangles, American Band is still remarkably nuanced in its quiet and not-so-quiet anger…..” –NPR
“….Indeed, everything about “American Band” is stark and solemn, its brevity being much needed in a year where the band’s home country seems to need its bulls–t filter replaced on a weekly basis. “American Flag” is a monochrome “Nebraska” in a discography of technicolor “Born to Run”s. ……” –The Line of Best Fit
“….Taken as a whole, American Band is the group’s most thematically coherent work since their pinnacle of Jason Isbell-assisted records in the early 2000s. […] But even if American Band is not an easy listen, it’s a crucial one: the sound of a band reawakened, seeing things clearly, and horrified by the sight…..” –American Songwriter
“….Drive-By Truckers’s albums, even their comparatively lesser efforts, are nothing if not thematically coherent. But the band displays a new level of clear-eyed purpose and here-and-now urgency on American Band. Eloquently plainspoken as ever about the pressing issues we face as a nation, they’ve made an album multiple decades into their career that establishes them as more directly relevant than ever. ….” –Slant Magazine
“….The USA in the year of Trump, though, has inspired Drive-By Truckers to make this lacerating denunciation of the state of their nation, which stands right up there with Springsteen’s Wrecking Ball and their own best work….” –Classic Rock Magazine
Check back as more reviews arrive. Meanwhile, you can see Drive-By Truckers’ ‘American Band’ album cover art below and music videos.