BY JOHN B. MOORE
Used records stores are crammed every weekend with vinyl nerds scouring the shops for releases from bands that should have been huge, but never really made it past cult favorite status. Almost three decades after their debut, Drivin’ N’ Cryin’, which flirted with major labels early on, have sadly and inexplicably never really shaken that band-on-the-verge of making it big status. Thankfully for those of us who have always been devotees of the Atlanta underdogs, they have lately taken a “fuck it, this one’s for the fans” attitude.
The Ramones meets Johnny Cash band came out with a series of four themed EPs starting in 2012 after a too long hiatus. Best of Songs is a collection of 10 of the… well, best songs from that series. And yes, obviously the term “best” is subjective, but the band, Plowboy Records and whoever else was responsible for the picks did a pretty admirable job of whittling down a solid 32 songs to the 10 that make up this latest vinyl-only set.
While each EP focused on a different aspect of the band’s music (punk, southern rock, country, psych/garage), Best of Songs is a fully realized DnC album, harkening back to Scarred But Smarter or Whisper Tames the Lion, where the band’s sound and influences changed from track to track. The record kicks off with “Hot Wheels,” easily one of the band’s strongest songs since the late 1980s, off of Songs About Cars, Space and Ramones and the record closes with the three-minute surf rock instrumental “Space Eyes,” off that same album. In between is a little bit of everything that makes the band great – a humble of influences not limited to any one genre.
While it’s not yet been made clear if Best of Songs is the band’s swan song or just the end of a chapter in the middle of the book, in a recent interview the band’s singer Kevn Kinney said “I’m a Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ fan, and I make these records to give myself something to listen to, in the same way that people who make moonshine make it because they like to drink it.” Here’s hoping the still will keep running for a few more years.
DOWNLOAD: “Hot Wheels,” “Dirty,” and “REM”