Songwriting life-partners Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley have released eight studio albums (along with two live albums and a couple of comps) under the Drive-By Truckers banner since their 1998 debut. Almost all are good. Some (2003's Decoration Day; 2008's Brighter Than Creation's Dark) are great. In an era where the best rock bands play clubs and theaters rather than arenas, no other contemporary guitar-bass-drums unit can boast as deep or rich a catalog as these storytelling children of Neil Young, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Tom T. Hall.
The band's latest album, Go-Go Boots, is merely one of the good ones, a quieter collection lacking obviously major songs but boasting lots of subtle pleasures. Hood's opening tribute to a late female relative whose glamour owned his 5-year-old imagination is simple and lovely. And he provides two tough portraits of troubled men with guns: the Vietnam vet of "Ray's Automatic Weapon" and the human powder keg of "Used To Be a Cop." Cooley, as always, is an indefatigable crafter of small, twisty character sketches packed with wordy comic wisdom ("Getting all excited finding nothing that was never there before is like bringing flowers to your mama and tracking dog shit all across the floor"). Here he mines "Cartoon Gold," walks out the door to a country shuffle rhythm, and laments a girl from Pulaski, Tennessee, who hits the road for Hollywood and comes to regret it.
Expect a mix of these new songs with earlier classics like the riff-rock wisdom of Cooley's "Marry Me" and Hood's sardonic anthem "Let There Be Rock." And, as if this great band weren't enough, I don't think they've ever hit town with a better opener than Tennessee indie/alt-country band Those Darlins, currently riding on their own fine sophomore album, Screws Get Loose. The Drive-By Truckers and Those Darlins play the New Daisy Theatre on Saturday, October 29th. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $26.