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Music to your ears...

Drive By Truckers Brighter Than Creation's Dark Shooter Jennings The Wolf

02/01/2008 - Drive By Truckers are the best band in the world. I could end this review now. Or I could help you waste some time by expounding on my outlandish, brash proclamation. Come on. Admit it, you know you want me to go on for awhile, so I will. Besides, the heading tells you that I'm also going to tell you about Shooter's latest offering.

So like I was saying, DBT are amazing. I've been heavily into them since the release of their magnum opus, "Southern Rock Opera." I have eagerly awaited each subsequent album from DBT, and I have never been disappointed. This holds true for their latest, "Brighter Than Creation's Dark." BTCD finds the Truckers carrying on without boy genius Jason Isbell, who joined the band shortly after they recorded "Southern Rock Opera" in 2001. After recording three albums with the band, Jason parted ways with DBT and began a solo career. Many thought the absence of Isbell would prove to be the demise of the band, but they were proven wrong, owing to the sheer greatness of "Brighter Than Creation's Dark," and the fact that DBT did just fine without him for five years before Jason joined the band.

This newest release from DBT displays all the attributes that caused me to jump on their wagon to begin with. Ridiculously good songwriting, frighteningly gritty lyrics, southern rock/dirty country/backwards bluegrass sensibilities, and tons of guitars all combine to create some kind of perfect southern storm that grabbed me by the back of my red neck and dragged me through the woods up the holler from the first time I heard them.

Honestly, there is no one making music this good anywhere else. Whether it be a slow, twangy trip into dysfunctional despair driven by a pedal steel guitar and Mike Cooley's unapologetic accent, the croaking, rasping brilliance of Patterson Hood's voice, and a nasty, deep fried rock and roll a twin guitar attack that would make Gary Rossington and Steve Gaines proud, Drive By Truckers can do no wrong in my book. They are, quite simply better than every one else out there right now. Stay away from them, though, if you just want to hear the same old formulaic crud that dominates the airwaves these days. DBT is just for smart people. Smart rednecks, that is. And yes, there is such an animal. I should know. I am one.

No time for segues. Now I'm gonna tell you why you should buy Shooter Jennings' latest album, "The Wolf." First off, you should buy it because Shooter is the offspring of Jesse Colter and of course, Waylon Jennings. Waylon would want you to buy this album. WWWD? What would Waylon do? He would buy several copies of "The Wolf."

Like DBT, Shooter likes to mix it up a little. Or a lot. He rocks in a very country sort of way, or his country stylings are rocking. However you want it. If you listen to Lynyrd Skynyrd (Shame, shame on you if you don't), you should be listening to Shooter for all the same reasons. Screaming guitars, long hair, and all the excesses of rock and roll are not necessarily mutually exclusive in respect to barns, tractors and hound dogs. That, to me, is the way things should be. Shooter, like the aforementioned Drive By Truckers, has it right. Rock and roll just sounds cool when sung with a southern drawl, and country music sounds pretty dern cool when performed by a long haired hedonist. In this case, the hedonist in question just happens to come with a very serious country pedigree.

If you run down to your local record store and pick up these two stellar releases, you will instantly increase the cool factor in your collection by a factor of 27. If you download them, your MP3 player will take on a shiny new aspect that you never saw before, though it may be smudged with a little manure, too. And then, some day in the near future, you'll have your earbuds in and one of your urbane companions will lean over and ask smugly, "Whatcha listening to?"

You will simply smile and nod knowingly. "Your next favorite song, dude." Your cool reply will shake their confidence. You'll hand them a bud (an ear bud, that is) and after one listen they will recognize your taste. They will forever after eschew listening to dumb music performed by the likes of James Blunt and the Arctic Monkeys, and be released into the musical wonderland provided by DBT and Shooter. Oh, trust me, good people. Trust me. But then again, they may just think you're a dork.

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