Posts Tagged ‘American Band’


The open-faced honesty of long-running Southern roots rockers Drive-By Truckers has always been one of their most endearing traits, as head honchos Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley spin tales of bitter breakups, toxic ennui, and the night they saw GG Allin. The band’s new record, American Band , is the group’s most outright political effort, touching on homespun tragedies close to their hearts, including massacres in South Carolina and a condemnation of the history of the NRA. On the Cooley-penned lead single “Surrender Under Protest,” the band sounds off on the fight to remove the Confederate flag from the South Carolina statehouse. As much as the track’s a victory lap, the crashing guitars also make it feel like a rallying cry at the beginning of a bigger struggle.


American Band is not a bashful album. As a collection of songs, it’s not quite as effective as say Southern Rock Opera or even The Dirty South. But as a political statement, it’s easily the most emphatic work by the band Drive By Truckers. “What It Means” takes a subdued approach to the subject of African-Americans killed at the hands of police (or, in the case of Martin, a vigilante cop-wannabe). “Darkened Flags on the Cusp of Dawn” is the brawny flipside, full of the growling, intertwined guitars that have become something of a Truckers signature over the years. Singer Patterson Hood mostly handles the downhearted tunes, singing from the perspective of a military veteran wounded as a civilian by an act of domestic terrorism on the moody “Guns of Umpqua,” sighing in the gloom over a gentle piano phrase on “When the Sun Don’t Shine” and parsing his own struggles with depression on “Baggage,” written after Robin Williams committed suicide. Although the songs on American Band are arguably not the band’s catchiest, it’s a body of work that is starting to feel increasingly essential as the American political landscape gets more and more surreal



Drive-By Truckers have debuted a video for “Surrender Under Protest,” the latest single from their new American Band LP — and like the song and album from which it comes, the clip has a sociopolitical statement to make.
The video was helmed by Lance Bangs, a director whose credits include a number of live and promo clips for a long list of artists that includes Sting and the Black Keys — work that appealed to Truckers singer/guitarist Patterson Hood. As Hood said in a statement “Lance Bangs filmed our new video for ‘Surrender Under Protest’ at the foot of Mississippi Avenue under the Fremont Bridge in Portland, Oregon. I’ve long been a fan of Lance’s work and instinctively knew he would know exactly the perfect visual element for this song. We were filmed during the first rain of the season. Enjoy!”
Bangs’ vision blends performance footage of the band with film from Black Lives Matter protests, further underscoring the group’s commitment to a movement they’ve outspokenly supported during the promotional campaign for American Band. “I’m a white, middle-aged college dropout from Alabama. But we feel very strongly about these things,” Hood told USA Today. “There are conversations at this moment in time that I don’t have to have with my children that our bass player, who has a black daughter, will have to have with her. As long as that exists, there is a need to say things like ‘Black Lives Matter.

Image of Ultimate Painting - Dusk

Dusk is the third album from London-based duo Ultimate Painting, a ten song set that expands the group’s sound from their self-titled debut and their critically acclaimed sophomore effort Green Lanes, about whose tunes Pitchfork raved their “deceptively simple interplay slowly worms into your synapses…” Dusk heads along the same path, albeit in a slightly different direction, forging to new territory by heading inward. Most groups would kill to have one talented songwriter in their ranks, but Ultimate Painting are lucky enough to be comprised of two singular voices in Jack Cooper and James Hoare.

The pair’s distinctive songwriting styles began to blur a bit with Green Lanes, but on Dusk it ’s hard to tell where Cooper ends & Hoare begins. Their tunes weave in & out of each other like the duo’s respective six-strings, spiralling around each other in a laconic dance. Album opener ‘Bills’ dives head-first into a crystalline pool of jangle, furthering the duo’s rep as purveyors of the Verlaine/Lloyd legacy, but despite the evident influence of American guitar pop both past & present, the group’s recorded an album that feels decidedly English. Cooper’s abstract poeticism balanced perfectly alongside Hoare’s alluring & universal pop leanings. The group’s discovered a simple lushness in Dusk’s arrangements, sometimes only with subtle additions like Hoare’s recently acquired Wurlitzer piano that drives tunes like ‘Lead The Way’ or washes underneath others like ‘Monday Morning, Somewhere Central’. They’ve tapped into the subtle grace that infects the mood and emotions experienced at times like sunrise & dusk. Hopefullness. Resignation. Ennui. A breathing in. A breathing out.

Dusk was once again recorded to tape by guitarist James Hoare in his London flat. The casual setting allowed the sessions & songs to unfold naturally, with the two of them accompanied by recent live drummer Melissa Rigby, who drums on the entirety of Dusk. Her skills lend a rhythmic elasticity to songs like ‘A Portrait of Jason’ and ‘I Can’t Run Anymore’, with jazzy undertones that break from the band’s previously unadorned 4/4 leanings. Dusk feels different and cements the group’s presence in the modern world guitar pop, finding voice in the allure of quietude.

Image of Jenny Hval - Blood Bitch (Bonus Disc Edition)

Norwegian artist Jenny Hval announces the release of her new album, Blood Bitch via Sacred Bones. Co-produced with acumen noise producer Lasse Marhaug, Blood Bitch is in many respects a complete 180° from her last album, Apocalypse, Girl, in subject matter, execution and production. It is Hval’s most focused album, but the lens is filtered through a gaze which the viewer least expects.

In the words of Jenny Hval: “Blood Bitch is an investigation of blood. Blood that is shed naturally. The purest and most powerful, yet most trivial, and most terrifying blood: Menstruation. The white and red toilet roll chain which ties together the virgins, the whores, the mothers, the witches, the dreamers, and the lovers. Blood Bitch is also a fictitious story, fed by characters and images from horror and exploitation films of the ’70s. With that language, rather than smart, modern social commentary, I found I could tell a different story about myself and my own time: a poetic diary of modern transience and transcendence. There is a character in this story that is a vampire Orlando, traveling through time and space. But there is also a story here of a 35-year old artist stuck in a touring loop, and wearing a black wig. She is always up at night, jet lagged, playing late night shows – and by day she is quietly resting over an Arp Odyssey synthesizer while a black van drives her around Europe and America. So this is my most fictional and most personal album. It’s also the first album where I’ve started reconnecting with the goth and metal scene I started out playing in many years ago, by remembering the drony qualities of Norwegian Black Metal. It’s an album of vampires, lunar cycles, sticky choruses, and the smell of warm leaves and winter.”

Jenny Hval has developed her distinct take on intimate sound since the release of her debut album in 2006. For her last two solo albums, 2013’s Innocence Is Kinky and 2015’s Apocalypse, girl, Hval has received thoughtful and widespread international acclaim for her fascinating voice, singular delivery and markedly non-traditional arrangements which incorporate elements of poetry, prose writing,
performance art, and film. She eloquently brings to light issues of both male and female gaze.

Warehouse -

Atlanta’s Warehouse will release their sophomore album, Super Low, at the end of the month by way of the Brooklyn-based label Bayonet. This is welcome news, since we named Warehouse a Band To Watch last year based on the strength of their unconventionally catchy debut LP Tesseract. We’ve heard a few singles off of super LowReservoir and Simultaneous Contrasts and today we’re premiering the title track. While Warehouse was recording Super Low, Elaine Edenfield was coping with a personal loss, which affected her creative process tremendously. She describes feeling “Super Low” as follows:

Super Low is about near loss, loss, and fear of loss. The slowest song, leaning towards the album’s most heavy subconscious undertones, Super Low is the coming to a point of resolution, understanding, and maturation.

Though this song was born of trauma, it’s not an upsetting first listen. There’s so much life in “Super Low” that it’s hard to fathom this song is about death until you listen carefully to Edenfield’s lyrics. Still, her words are resilient: “I can’t destroy the things/ They keep me alive/ And I can’t destroy the things/ That lead to where you lie.”

Image of Public Access TV - Never Enough - Bonus Disc Edition

Having successfully nabbed the attention of NME early on, with the magazine singing their praises after uploading just one song to SoundCloud and declaring them “New York City’s hottest new band”, the group played their first live show at the legendary East Village bar Niagara, to a packed crowd before heading to England to hone their sound.
Touring under the fake band name “The iLL Herbs’ their run of UK shows was a huge success, culminating in their performance at The Great Escape Festival in Brighton.
The band have more recently played both the Bonnaroo and Governor’s Ball Festivals. In addition, both NME, and Entertainment Weekly declared the group one of the “buzziest” bands at SXSW this past year. The band also played a sold-out NME show at Birthdays in London this February, as well as a number of support slots for The Strokes, Hinds, FIDLAR and Palma Violets.

Image of Ian Sweet - Shapeshifter

IAN SWEET’s indie pop packs the personality that [Hardly Art] is known for, spinning conventional rock band setups into output that is unconventional.”

“They’ve relocated across the USA, gone on three tours, eaten a lot of donuts, climbed rocks and worn crocs.”

“The unmistakable voice of singer Jillian Medford is a force that stands all on its own.”

“I have a way of loving too many things to take on just one shape,” Jilian Medford sings over and over again on the title track of the Brooklyn-based band IAN SWEET’s debut album, Shapeshifter, repeating it like a mantra. This is Medford’s thesis statement, a narrator to carry us through Shapeshifter, which is above all else a meditation on loneliness and displacement. It’s about losing love and your sense of self in the process, about grabbing at the little things in life that bring joy when nothing else is going according to plan. It’s also an ode to the bandmates, and the friends, that see you through. Ian Sweet started in 2014 with a string of text messages. Medford was a few days away from embarking on her first tour when the driver and drummer she recruited cancelled. Medford sent Ian Sweet drummer Tim Cheney  whom she barely knew a series of desperate messages, asking if he knew how to drum and whether or not he would be willing to take two weeks off of life to go on tour. Cheney responded soon after with a simple: “Yes.” Accompanied by Cheney and bassist Damien Scalise’s playful instrumentation, Shapeshifter becomes a celebratory purging, an album that finds humor in self-deprecation and vice.

Ian Sweets debut interrogates capital-e Existence through a candy-coated lens, their mathy precision scaffolding the chaos of Medford’s personal neurosis and turning those anxieties into something hook-laden and relatable. And though the narrative of Shapeshifter clings to an ex-lover, the yearning felt on this album isn’t directed at a particular individual so much as it’s turned inward. “You know the feeling. When you really like someone, you forget to do anything for yourself, you forget all of the things that gave you your shape,” Medford says. “The things that form your absolute.”

Image of Various Artists - Liverpool International Festival Of Psychedelia Presents PZYK VOL.2: Further Adventures In The PZYK Diaspora

Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia are thrilled to announce the release of PZYK Vol.2 – a deluxe triple vinyl compilation celebrating the latest stars in the neo-psychedelic firmament.

The release comes one year on from the original, scene defining release PZYK Vol.1, which was named Piccadilly Records ‘Compilation Of The Year’. Featuring a mix of exclusive tracks, re-mixes, rarities and album cuts, the compilation spans and charts the global PZYK diaspora, with artists from around the world contributing to an international selection comprising 30 of the current movement’s key noisemakers.

Festival headliners SUPER FURRY ANIMALS are featured, as are The Horrors with a scintillating cut from TOM FURSE. The compilation again celebrates the internationalism of the neo-psych underground, with appearances from KIKAGAKU MOYO (Japan), DUNGEN (Sweden), PURE PHASE ENSEMBLE (Poland), ZOMBIE ZOMBIE (France), THE GANJAS (Chile) and 10,000 RUSSOS (Portugal), to name but a few.

All the artists featured on the release have performed at Liverpool Psych Fest.

Image of Bon Iver - 22, A Million

22, A Million is part love letter, part final resting place of two decades of searching for self- understanding like a religion. And the inner-resolution of maybe never finding that understanding. The album’s 10 poly-fi recordings are a collection of sacred moments, love’s torment and salvation, contexts of intense memories, signs that you can pin meaning onto or disregard as coincidence. If Bon Iver, Bon Iver built a habitat rooted in physical spaces, then 22, A Million is the letting go of that attachment to a place.

Image of Pixies - Head Carrier

Sophomore ‘post reunion’ album from the alt-rock four piece, their first new music since 2014’s Indie Cindy.

This 12 track record showcases the band’s unique mixture of surrealism, psychedelia, dissonance + surf rock.

Produced by Tom Dalgety (Royal Blood, Killing Joke) and recorded at London’s Rak Studios.

Paz Lenchantin, the band’s touring bassist since early 2014 (and previously a member of A Perfect Circle and Zwan amongst others) is now a permanent member of the band and her cool vocals can be heard on the album, most notably on ‘All I Think About Now’ on which she takes the lead.

Image of The Wytches - All Your Happy Life

The Wytches second album All Your Happy Life draws on a lifetime’s worth of new experiences shoehorned into two whirlwind years since their acclaimed debut album ‘Annabel Dream Reader’. There’s no difficult second album syndrome here. This black-hearted set is a combination of heavy comedown psychedelia and bilious and brilliant baroque ‘n’ roll. It’s portentous and scathing. Scabrous and bold. Utterly nihilistic.

Influences and inspiration is drawn from unexpected places – reading Tolstoy’s stories of dysfunctional relationships on the tour bus, digging the warm Hammond-and-acoustic tones of Elliot Smith, loads of underground metal band – but mainly it is informed by observing small town English life with new eyes, having traversed the planet on that first wave of success that followed their 2014 debut. It’s not so much the sound of the calm after the storm, but the howling vortex that follows in its wake.

All Your Happy Life marks a creative leap for The Wytches. Some might say it is the sound of a band finding their place in the world but really it is about world being allowed to enter the sphere of The Wytches – on their terms.

Image of Slaves - Take Control

Following on from the success of Slaves’ top 10 Mercury-nominated debut album ‘Are You Satisfied’, the duo mark their return with first single ‘Spit It Out’, an explosion of punk-rock fury that trails second album, ‘Take Control’. ‘Take Control’ was produced by one of the legends of early hip hop and New York punk, Mike D!!

CooleyImage of Drive-By Truckers - American Band

A statement from Drive-By Truckers’ Patterson Hood: “We are beyond thrilled to announce the release date of our new album ‘American Band’.

“These are crazy times and we have made a record steeped in this moment of history that we’re all trying to live through. We’ve always considered ourselves a political band, even when that aspect seemed to be concealed by some type of narrative device i.e. dealing with issues of race by telling a story set in the time of George Wallace or class struggles by setting ‘Putting People On The Moon’ in the age of Reagan.

“This time out, there are no such diversions as these songs are mostly set front and center in the current political arena with songs dealing with our racial and cultural divisions, gun violence, mass shootings and political assholery. Once again, there is a nearly even split between the songs of  and myself, with both of us bringing in songs that seem to almost imply a conversation between us about our current place in time.

“‘American Band’ is a sort of rock and roll call to arms as well as a musical reset button for our band and the country we live in. Most of all, we look at it as the beginnings of some conversations that we, as a people very much need to begin having if we ever hope to break through the divisions that are threatening to tear us apart.

“Drive-By Truckers are celebrating our twentieth anniversary as a band in an election year where some people are trying to define what it is to be American. Definitions based on some outdated ideology of prejudice and fear. We are loudly proclaiming that those people don’t speak for us. America is and always has been a land of immigrants and ideals. Ideals that we have often fallen short of achieving, but it’s the striving that has given us whatever claims to greatness we have had. That’s what America means to us and “We’re an American Band”.”

Image of The Wands - Faces EP

Scandinavian psych-rock outfit The Wands pinned themselves at the forefront of the European psych stage long ago with their previous efforts but the new Faces EP is certain to keep them sitting there comfortably. Dining on an influence of Nuggets-era rock and roll and Eastern acid-rock this is psychedelic music as it should be, underpinned by a nostalgic yearning but wholly innovative and equally addictive. Their latest cut is a much more dynamic and vivid effort and it’s immediately evident that The Wands are back with a clearer vision than ever with their vibrant and infectious psych. Whilst the groovy fuzzed-out guitars, otherworldly solos and tremulous vocals still echo a tripped out ode to the 60s and 70s psychedelic forefathers, the cosmic swell of synths and organs propel it with a contemporary and ethereal vigour.

Drive-By Truckers, 'American Band'

On this their 11th album, and the most politically charged collection of their career, the Athens-based band offers a dose of angry, punk-fueled protest. “A lot of our records are set in another period of time, whereas this record is really about the ‘right now,'” says frontman Patterson Hood, who’s lately been inspired by Black Lives Matter–era statements like Beyoncé’s Lemonade and Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly. With songs that address gun violence and racially motivated police shootings, American Band is a fitting soundtrack for this fall’s dystopian election cycle. The Truckers revisit themes involving Southern identity first addressed on their 2001 breakthrough Southern Rock Opera, but “What It Means,” which ponders the shootings of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin, has already aroused controversy. “Me and [co-lead-singer] Mike Cooley have been pissing people off for 31 years,” says Hood. “If someone wants to control what we say or do, fuck ’em.

The Drive-By Truckers had no plans to release a record this year. But the band’s two co-founders, Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley, were so agitated by this tumultuous period in American history that they couldn’t stop themselves from writing a bunch of new songs. And the songs were so good and so timely that they couldn’t put off going into the studio. This new album, American Band, is the result.

The two men write their songs separately, but when they shared their recent output, they found that their new material had a lot in common—not only in what they wrote about but also how they wrote about it. Hood and Cooley had so much to say that they found themselves cramming two songs’ worth of words into each tune. To contain this overflow of ideas, they each fashioned long lyric lines, densely packed with language.

When Cooley, for example, wrote about changing gender roles on “Filthy and Fried,” he began with this image-soaked couplet: “Bottles falling in a dumpster and a stale smell rising through a sickening summer haze/To the rhythm of a boot-heeled hipster cowgirl’s clunky sashay of shame.” And when Hood addressed school shootings on “Guns of Umpqua,” he pivoted on this word-stuffed couplet: “Now we’re moving chairs in some panic mode to barricade the door./As my heart rate surges on adrenaline and nerves, I feel I’ve been here before.”


The quintet is still a rock ‘n’ roll band with live drums and two or three guitars on every song (Jay Gonzalez splits his duties between guitar and keyboards).

Hood’s “What It Means,” for instance, starts off by referencing the recent deaths of young black men at the hands of police officers. “If you say it wasn’t racial when they shot him in his tracks,” Hood sings, “well, I guess that means you ain’t black…You don’t see too many white kids lying bleeding on the street.” Hood jumps from Ferguson to Baltimore, from Chicago to Miami, turning TV news images into rock ‘n’ roll lyrics.

before the album was released, and it proved polarizing among the band’s staunchest fans. Some loved it, but others hated it, complaining that the Drive-By Truckers shouldn’t get involved in politics. It was a strange reaction, considering that this is the band that released the most ferocious anti-Bush anthem of all, “Putting People on the Moon,” the class-conscious “Uncle Frank,” and the incisive analysis of segregation on “Three Alabama Icons.”

“I’ve always considered ourselves a political band,” Hood adds. “Most of the music I’ve loved I’ve considered political, whether it’s the Clash or Bruce or Curtis Mayfield. When Obama won in 2008, a lot of us convinced ourselves that we’d turned the corner and put all this race stuff behind us. And then the most disgusting stuff happened. It’s like when you turn on the light in the basement and everything scampers. But the negativity this record has inspired—even the pushback from long-term fans—that can be the start of a much needed conversation.”

Like Hood, Cooley watches the news a lot, and he noticed that two topics kept popping up again and again: guns and the Mexican border. What connected the two? he asked himself. At first he thought about writing a satirical song about NRA supporters who form volunteer militias and go down to the border to do ad hoc patrols. But that got him thinking about the National Rifle Association, and its strange transition from a gun-safety/marksmanship organization to a right-wing lobbying group.

The key figure in that changeover, Cooley discovered, was Harlon Carter, the NRA vice president from 1977 through 1985. A little further digging revealed that Carter was set free in 1931 after shooting and killing a 15-year-old Mexican boy, Ramon Casiano, in Laredo, Texas. Suddenly it all fit together, and Cooley quickly wrote “Ramon Casiano,” the album’s lead-off track. Cooley made sure to connect the story to the present day by singing, “It all started with the border, and that’s still where it is today. Someone killed Ramon Casiano, and the killer got away.”

“I did more songs based on specific stories for this album than I ever have in the past,” Cooley says. “I like writing with parameters. In interviews, songwriters always say, ‘I don’t want to put limits on myself,’ but that’s bullshit. Eventually you have put parameters on yourself, or you’re all over the place. If you have nothing to start with, that can be frustrating because you can go for days without thinking of something to write about. But give me something to write about, and I know what to do with it.”

“Ramon Casiano” is a noisy-guitar rocker, and so are the two songs that follow: “Darkened Flags on the Cusp of Dawn” and “Surrender Under Protest.” Hood wrote “Darkened Flags” right after penning a column on the Confederate flag for the New York Times Magazine and the song is “very much the companion piece to the essay,” he says. Both of the latter songs were written right after Dylann Roof, who often posed with the Stars and Bars, shot nine members of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, June 17, 2015.

After the opening trilogy of songs, however, the album quiets down quite a bit. One of the frustrating things about the Drive-By Truckers has always been that the lyrics that are such a strength on their recordings are almost indecipherable in the band’s live shows, drowned out by the roar of unrestrained guitars and drums. On this recording, at least, there’s been a conscious effort to push the words to the foreground,

Last year Hood and Cooley decided to celebrate their 30 years of making music together by releasing It’s Great To Be Alive, a two-LP, three-CD concert album recorded over three nights at the end of 2014 at the Fillmore in San Francisco. It was also a chance to showcase the current Drive-By Truckers line-up: Hood, Cooley, Brad Morgan (drummer since 1999), Jay Gonzalez (guitarist-keyboardist since 2007) and Matt Patton (bassist since 2012). As a live unit, this group had refashioned several songs so dramatically that the new versions deserved to be documented. The set also captures some of Hood’s spoken monologues that are often a highlight of the live shows.