With Hood and partner Mike Cooley alternating funny, incisive, Grit-Lit-worthy songs over Skynyrd-meets-Neil Young guitar riffs, if this isnt Americas best contemporary rock band, its sure on the short list.The Drive-By Truckers lost guitarist/songwriter Jason Isbell to a solo career before recording their last album, 2008s Brighter Than Creations Dark. But thats okay: Isbell was just gravy since the Truckers already boasted two of the best rock songwriters of their generation in Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley. And on Brighter Than Creations Dark, Hood and Cooley are sharper than theyve been since the bands 2003s career best Decoration Day.
Though it peaks at the very beginning with the saddest, loveliest song Hood will ever write (Two Daughters and a Beautiful Wife), Brighter Than Creations Dark holds its shape for an epic 19 songs and 75 minutes. Hood takes the toll of the Iraq war from two vantage points, ruminates on road life, spits in the wind of recession, and tips his cap to printer-of-legends the great John Ford. Musical life-partner Cooley spins one wonderful, low-rent character sketch after another, several of them probably autobiographical, led by a definitive metal-to-grunge saga hes old enough to have lived and a shaggy confession that outs country storyteller Tom T. Hall as this great bands biggest influence. If this isnt Americas best contemporary rock band, its sure on the short list.
The Drive-By Truckers play the New Daisy Theatre tonight. Don Chambers and Goat will open. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $21. Chris Herrington