The Drive-By Truckers are back to kicking ass. After working
through the emotional doldrums of line-up transition with the moody yet
brilliant 2008 album Brighter Than
Creation’s Dark, the band is once again firing on all cylinders. Patterson
Hood and company declared The Big To-Do would be a full-on rock record-in line with the band’s eardrum-punishing live
shows-and they weren’t kidding. The album is filled with big riffs and sweet
hooks, and frankly it’s the band’s best collection of songs since the mid 2000s
heyday of Decoration Day and the Dirty South.
Hood and main songwriting counterpart Mike Cooley are front
porch scribes who both know how to unearth the down and dirty of Dixie’s
underbelly without cliché.
Hood visually sketches seedy rural characters better than
anyone, especially in the messy redneck love triangle of “Drag the Lake
Charlie.” It also wouldn’t be a proper Truckers’ record without a hair-raising
murder tale, and this one comes from the creepy shuffle of “The Wig He Made Her
Wear.” Hood also takes on endless strip mall commercialization in “After the
Scene Dies,” and “This Fucking Job” is a blue-collar anthem that’s perfect for
the current economic shit storm and sure to be a fist-pumping show stopper for
years to come.
Cooley manages to infiltrate the mind of a stripper in
“Birthday Boy.” He also hits a high-charged ‘50s retro groove on the
politically charged “Get Downtown.”
The album also has two unexpected standouts from bassist
Shonna Tucker. “I Told You So” is amped up old school pop that Buddy Holly who
have been proud to record. While “You Got Another” is an ethereal piano ballad
that’s a quick breath of fresh air in the middle of all the distortion-like
chasing a shot of whiskey with a kiss from Patsy Cline.
Standout Tracks: “Birthday Boy,” “Wig He Made Her Wear,” “You Got Another” JEDD FERRIS