Tag: mike cooley

***2016 RECAP*** MUSIC REVIEW | Drive-By Truckers – American Band (2016)

truckers-1
At the turn of the century, Drive-By Truckers released their double LP breakthrough opus, Southern Rock Opera. 15 years later, they’re back with a sequel of sorts in American Band.  While Rock Opera tackled the dark past of their southern homeland, from the Civil War to civil rights, their latest tightens much of the focus on time to the present day, while expand geographically to the entire United States.

From Black Lives Matter, to gun control, to border issues ad immigration, to the conservative right wing, to exposing the ignorance of a rose coloured nostalgia for the good old days, core song writers Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley have exploited their southern rock, 60s soul and (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Drive-By Truckers – American Band (2016)

truckers-1
At the turn of the century, Drive-By Truckers released their double LP breakthrough opus, Southern Rock Opera. 15 years later, they’re back with a sequel of sorts in American Band.  While Rock Opera tackled the dark past of their southern homeland, from the Civil War to civil rights, their latest tightens much of the focus on time to the present day, while expand geographically to the entire United States.

From Black Lives Matter, to gun control, to border issues ad immigration, to the conservative right wing, to exposing the ignorance of a rose coloured nostalgia for the good old days, core song writers Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley have exploited their southern rock, 60s soul and (more…)

COMING SOON | Drive-By Truckers – American Band (2016)

Truckers 1

I stumbled across Drive-By Truckers thanks to an A.V Club article about bands with multiple songwriters.  That was around the release of their 2008 record, Brighter Than Creation’s Dark.  An album that made me go back and listen to everything they made before then, and be aware of everything that came after.  For about five years, I really liked the Truckers.  Then, in 2014, they released English Oceans, and my music listening has been completely dominated by the band ever since.  My like turned to love, turned to obsession, with the only substantial breaks in listening to them coming via listening to Jason Isbell, who used to be a member of…  Wait for it…  Drive-By Truckers.

(more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Patterson Hood – Killers and Stars (2004)

Patterson Hood
In 2004, Drive-By Truckers were six years and five albums into their life as a band.  According to the odd interview I’ve read with members of the band, it was make or break time.  The practical decision would have been to try to tailor their sound to make it a little more main stream and accessible.  Instead, they embarked on a double record concept album about Lynard Skynard, the chequered history of America’s south, and the duality of the southern man.


It was a huge gamble that paid off.  Southern Rock Opera was the double record concept album that broke the band and took them to the level that meant they could headline their own tours and keep going completely on their own terms.  That’s a huge deal, a huge risk and huge part of the band’s history.  Which makes it even more mind blowing that at the same time, Drive-By Trucker’s Patterson Hood decided to also make his own first solo album, Killers and Stars. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Drive-By Truckers – The Fine Print: Oddities and Rarities 2003-2008 (2009)

Truckers

The idea of a “Collection of Oddities and Rarities” would normally stink of lazy cash in to me.  But since I’ve spent the last year or so obsessed with Drive-By Truckers and listening to pretty much nothing but Drive-By Truckers (when not listing to things to write about on Bored and Dangerous), I’m more than willing to give these dudes the benefit of the doubt.  More than that, I’m prepared to love The Fine Print before I even hear a single note.  How’s that for objective, sycophantic criticism?


Opening with a slide guitar filled yarn in that quintessential Patterson Hood style, George Jones Talkin’ Cell Phone Blues is just one more chapter in his massive novel of the south and the people who populate it.  Hood can tell a more compelling tail, filled with more fully formed characters in a three or four minute song, than most movies accomplish in two hours.  Then it’s time to let his southern rock influences shine on Rebels.  Less country, more rock fan friendly, it’s still just as heavy on story and character. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Jason Isbell – Sirens in the Ditch (2008)

Isbell

For three albums and about as many years, Jason Isbell was such an integral part of Drive-By Truckers, that his tenure  there is one the most definite and definable periods in that band’s history.  And as important as he was to that time in that band, hearing Isbell’s contributions to A Blessing and a Curse, his last album as a Trucker, it’s clear that he and the band were moving in different directions.  It’s a great album, and Isbell’s contributions are solid, but a lot of those songs sound like they’re from a different band.


Seven years later, he would release Southeastern, an amazingly well reviewed album that would take the newly clean and sober Isbell to a new level as a respected and popular solo artist, singer, songwriter and legitimate headliner performer.  But in between, there were a few years and a couple of albums of Jason Isbell figuring out who he was as a solo artist, singer and songwriter.  The first of those albums was Sirens in the Ditch. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Booker T – Potato Hole (2009)

Booker T
I can’t name a single Booker T song off the top of my head, but I know that his organ playing is legendary. I also know that he’s a bit of a funk founding father. Well, at least I think I know these things about him. Because thinking about it, I can’t remember a single reason why I ‘know’ these things at all. But I think that’s kind of proof of his legend. His name and his area of expertise have entered my brain in a totally subconscious way. Now, I’m trying to make it conscious, buy listening to Potato Hole.


Sure, I could have gone back to one of his hallowed classic albums from decades past, but why would I do that when he has an album from six years ago, on which the mighty Drive-By Truckers played the part of his backing bad? And their contribution is immediately right out there, for everyone to hear with the crunching guitars of Mike Cooley and Patterson Hood. But as big as they are, that doesn’t stop Booker T’s organ from taking front and centre on Pound It Out.

The raucous rock of the Truckers and fellow backing band member Neil Young are all but completely abandoned on She Breaks. This is pure Hammond organ greatness in all its glory. Even when the guitars solo, Booker T’s organ on backups is the standout. An instrumental cover of the Outkast classic, Hey Ya manages to keep the fun of the original without the awesome Andre Benjamin vocals or lyrics. That’s the sign of a good musician, right there.

It’s hard to get into specifics about an album like this without saying the same thing over and over. Ultimately, it’s an instrumental album, built around a single, very specific instrument at its centre. So to say it sounds very similar from track to track isn’t totally inaccurate. But it’s also not meant as a bad thing either. That constant centre gives it a real unifying sound and consistency that I really like. It just means my reasons for liking it don’t differ all that much as I make my way through the track listing.

Can something sound extremely dated, yet timelessly cool at the same time? Yes, yes it can. And I have proof. Booker T and Potato Hole.

Booker T

MUSIC REVIEW | Eddie Hinton – Letters From Mississippi (1987)

Eddie Hinton

Until a few months ago, I’m pretty sure I’d never heard the name Eddie Hinton. Now, I don’t know much more. But what I do know is, a Drive-By Truckers song that I’ve liked for a long time, Where’s Eddie, is really cool. I also recently found out that a few tracks on the Truckers Go-Go Boots album, including Where’s Eddie, are Hinton covers. So while I may not know much about Eddie Hinton, I know the Drive-By Truckers rate him pretty highly, and I can’t think of as much better recommendation. So here I am, diving into Letters From Mississippi.


The opening, title track lets me know that Hinton is one of those vocalists who makes up for any short comings in his vocal range with pure feeling. When his voice brakes, it doesn’t detract from the song. In fact, it makes it all the more affecting. It also lets me know that Eddie Hinton dealt in a pretty dirty, southern rock kind of sound. This is some Credence Clearwater / Lynard Skynard type stuff, and it’s a more than promising start to the album.

But straight away, Hinton lets me know it’s not all about the shit kicking southern rock. Everybody Needs Love betrays his Muscle Shoals origins with its soul roots. Complete with a spoken word story verse, Everybody Needs Love is a white dude sounding cooler than any white dude ever has any right to sound. Then it’s time for some boot scootin’ country rock with Uncloudy Days. It’s simple, to the point and kind of cool, even when it borders on corny.

On I Believe In Our Love, things get a little more slick, and that’s not really a good thing. Sure, if I had heard this song first, I’d probably like it a lot more. But coming after the raw, gritty realness of songs like I Will Always Love You, the extra polish takes some of that raw and gritty reality away. It’s also just kind of rambling and boring. Aimlessly shuffling nowhere for over four minutes.


Thankfully, the lull doesn’t last long, and Hinton is back, with Letters From Mississippi firing on all cylinders again with Ting-a-Ling-Ling and It’s All Right. They sound like a band all playing together, warts and all. Not individual tracks produced to perfection, then meticulously put together.

Complete with its dancing horn section, My Searching is Over sounds like it comes straight off The Blues Brothers soundtrack. I’m not sure if I mean that as a compliment or criticism. On the one hand, I love that movie and pretty much every song in it. On the other, I’m totally aware of the fact that it’s the ultimate clueless white guy idea of rhythm, blues and soul music.


This kind of soul and R and B is right up there with the genres of music I have the least amount of experience with. Its peak years happened long before I was born and it’s a genre I’ve never really had any interest in. I never actively avoided it, I just never sought it out either. Hearing Eddie Hinton on Letters From Mississippi is the perfect kind of entry level stuff to make me want to hear more and dig deeper.

Eddie Hinton

***2014 RECAP*** MUSIC REVIEW | Drive-By Truckers – English Oceans (2014)

DBTEnglishOceans

As far as gateway bands go, I can’t think of another one who has made me change my views on a genre as much as Drive-By Truckers.  Before them, I had written off pretty much every country band or singer.  After hearing the Truckers 2008 album Brighter Than Creation’s Dark, I realised country really has its merits when done well.  And while that appreciation has lead me to newer stuff like Chris Shifflett and the Dead Peasants, and older stuff like Waylon Jennings, there’s still nothing in country music that gets me more pumped than the release of a new Drive-By Truckers album.  And it’s that time again, with English Oceans.


For me, I don’t know if story telling songwriters come any better in 2014 than this band.  Lead Trucker, Patterson Hood, can make any story sound lived in and vintage, vital and fresh all at the same time.  And proof of Mike Cooley’s invaluable contributions can be found in the fact that while he generally only contributes about half as many tracks as Hood to any album, those half as many are always stand outs.  In the case of English Oceans, he starts as strong as ever with Primer Coat, about a man old before his time, “graduated in ’84, quit drinkin’ in ‘92”.  It’s got that signature Cooley drawl that gives anything he sings undeniable gravitas. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | The Secret to a Happy Ending (2009)

Secret

“Rock and roll means well, but it can’t help tellin’ young boys lies”.

For most of my life, country music seemed like the least appealing genre of music ever committed to tape. Then I found a band called Drive-By Truckers and realised that country music can be kind of amazing. For 25 odd years now, they’ve been plugging away, building an ever growing following and getting more and more successful. It’s that slow and steady rise that makes the Drive-By Truckers story such a great one to tell with The Secret to a Happy Ending.


Focusing mainly on singers and guitarists Patterson Hood, Mike Cooley and Jason Isbell, it’s a history lesson on the band, how they came to be and the ups and downs along the way, leading up to the firing of Isbell. Sometimes, seeing how art is made can take some of the magic and mystery out of it, but the southern story telling charm of every Trucker means this look behind the curtain gives their songs even more dimension. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Patterson Hood – Murdering Oscar (and Other Love Songs) (2009)

patterson-hood-murdering-oscar-and-other-love-songs
When I think of Patterson Hood’s contributions as the leader of Drive-By Truckers, I think of the dirtier, seedier, heavier, southern rock side of everything they do.  While Mike Cooley’s guitar and solos can be as dirty and nasty as the best of them, they generally shine the most on tracks written by Hood.  Which is why the opening, title track of Murdering Oscar, Hood’s second solo album,is such an appropriate way to kick things off.  Sludgy guitars, unrepentant lyrics and a dark shadow laying over everything.


Songs like Screwtopia, Granddaddy and The Range War make me think Hood sees his solo albums as a place to slow things down a little, relax and chill out a bit.  A lot of the Truckers albums, and especially their live shows (from what I’ve seen online, anyway) are all about hard drinkin’, hard rockin’, ass kickin’ southern rock.  Even when the band slows down, they tend to be Mike Cooley tracks, not Hood contributions.  But Murdering Oscar (and Other Love Songs) show he does have a more tender side and is more than capable of letting it show.

At times, this quieter approach works to highlight Hood’s vocal limitations, but more often, the little wavers and slightly out of reach notes work more to add a vulnerability that perfectly matches the melancholic weary that fills so much of this album.

Heavy and Hanging ads a few more layers of instrumentation and volume to make for a combination of heavy and haunting foreboding, with a jarringly melodic chorus, where despite their clashing tones, these two disparate sounds somehow work together to make each even better.

Ending in real style, Back of a Bible is the perfect example of a genre working to its strengths, indulging in the kind of quirks that would seem like cheap tricks and gimmicks in any other style of music.   Arch lyrics, like, “Wrote you a love song on the back of a bible” could only work when sung with a world weary southern drawl, over the top of muted, barley strummed guitars and loose, hollow drums.

Murdering Oscar (and Other Love Songs) is really good.  Actually, it’s really great.  The only thing that stops me from absolutely loving it, is the unavoidable, and possibly unfair, comparison to Hood’s day job as a Drive-By Trucker.  As much as I like the songs here, I can’t help thinking that I prefer my Patterson Hood songs turned up to eleven and soaked in moonshine fuelled rock excess.

Patterson Hood

MUSIC REVIEW | Drive-By Truckers – English Oceans (2014)

DBTEnglishOceans

As far as gateway bands go, I can’t think of another one who has made me change my views on a genre as much as Drive-By Truckers.  Before them, I had written off pretty much every country band or singer.  After hearing the Truckers 2008 album Brighter Than Creation’s Dark, I realised country really has its merits when done well.  And while that appreciation has lead me to newer stuff like Chris Shifflett and the Dead Peasants, and older stuff like Waylon Jennings, there’s still nothing in country music that gets me more pumped than the release of a new Drive-By Truckers album.  And it’s that time again, with English Oceans.


For me, I don’t know if story telling songwriters come any better in 2014 than this band.  Lead Trucker, Patterson Hood, can make any story sound lived in and vintage, vital and fresh all at the same time.  And proof of Mike Cooley’s invaluable contributions can be found in the fact that while he generally only contributes about half as many tracks as Hood to any album, those half as many are always stand outs.  In the case of English Oceans, he starts as strong as ever with Primer Coat, about a man old before his time, “graduated in ’84, quit drinkin’ in ‘92”.  It’s got that signature Cooley drawl that gives anything he sings undeniable gravitas.

Pauline Hawkins is a call and response between Hood’s voice and Cooley’s guitar, before the closing out duelling solo.  A sound that’s almost signature to Drive-By Truckers, who have figured out a way to pile on the layers, without ever collapsing under the weight.

Things almost turn into a 50s cowboy TV show theme tune with Made Up English Oceans.  It’s bouncing bass line and rolling drums walk through what sounds like the setup for some sort of western epic.

The Part of Him shows that Hood isn’t content to just write amazing lyrics, but come up with music to match.  The driving main riff, the interaction between his voice and guitar, the way everything works in perfect unison, means no single instrument or band member steals focus at any time.  It’s like an old grandfather clock, and everyone knows exactly which precisely placed gear they are.

A weird combo of country vocals, almost honky tonk piano and unexpected sentiment, The Natural Light sticks out the most on English Oceans, while also coming at the perfect time to mix things up as the final third of the album begins to head toward the finish.  It’s also the perfect lead in to When Walter Went Crazy, by far the most restrained, stripped back offering, an obvious breather before closing things out.

And English Oceans closes things out on a surprisingly positive note, with the finger picking optimism of First Air of Autumn, before Grand Canyon, an almost epic that feels like it’s always just holding itself back from becoming an actual epic.

One of the most impressive things about Drive-By Truckers is their ability to stay within their shit kickin’ country sound, while still giving each album its own individual  personality.  2001’s Southern Rock Opera was the kind of concept album its title would suggest.  Brighter Than Creation’s Dark was all introspection and restraint.  In 2011, Go Go Boots was almost a raucous party record.  With English Oceans, they make it about the individual stories, but as disparate as they may seem from one another in some ways, they all work together to make a single, coherent album.

But if I can’t convince you to listen to this album, Marc Maron’s awesome interview with Patterson Hood should do the trick.

Drive-By Truckers