American Band
Studio album by
ReleasedSeptember 30, 2016 (2016-09-30)
Genre
Length46:45
LabelATO
ProducerDavid Barbe
Drive-By Truckers chronology
English Oceans
(2014)
American Band
(2016)
The Unraveling
(2020)
Singles from American Band
  1. "Surrender Under Protest"
    Released: 2016

American Band is the eleventh studio album by American Southern rock band Drive-By Truckers, released on September 30, 2016 on ATO Records. Produced by long-time collaborator David Barbe, and recorded in the summer of 2016, it is the first Drive-By Truckers album since 1999's Pizza Deliverance not to feature cover art by their longtime collaborator Wes Freed.

American Band is their second record with only two songwriters, the other being English Oceans, released two years earlier. All of their earlier records featured three songwriters. The record is notable for containing the most political lyrics of the band's career to date. The album was met with critical acclaim.

Packaging

Unlike previous albums, which featured cover art made by southern Gothic painter Wes Freed, American Band's album depicts a shadowy image of the American flag being lowered to half-mast.[1] The photo was taken by photographer Danny Clinch.[2] In an interview with Chuck Armstrong of The Boot, Mike Cooley said that the photo is based on a song he always wanted to write about how long the American flag stays at half-mast these days in the United States.[3]

Composition

Lyrics

Jonathan Bernstein, writing for Rolling Stone, said that American Band is the group's most politically charged record yet, noting the controversy it generated, saying Cooley and Patterson have written an album of "blunt, pissed-off Trump-era anthems that already began to stir controversy months before its release."[4] Nearly half of the albums' 11 songs deal with gun violence.[4] The song "Ramon Casiano" is about the little known story of gun rights advocate and former NRA leader Harlon Carter, who shot and killed a 15-year-old Hispanic boy in 1931, but escaped incarceration.[5] Patterson wrote "What it Means" in response to the deaths of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, unarmed black teenagers whose killings sparked the Black Lives Matter movement.[6] “Surrender Under Protest,” “Ever South,” and “Guns of Umpqua” examine generations of racial injustice in a country that "shoots first and asks questions later."[6] "Once They Banned Imagine" talks about the U.S. government's attempts to ban art in times of crisis, particularly after the September 11 attacks. Cooley recalled that "After the 9/11 attacks, Clear Channel put out that list of songs that their stations shouldn’t play. I couldn’t get my head around the notion that John Lennon’s "Imagine" was on that list, that it was something we didn’t need to hear at a time when it was exactly what we needed to hear. The Red Scare, the War on Crime, the War on Terrorism, they’re just excuses for cracking down on anything the establishment finds objectionable.”[7]

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
AnyDecentMusic?8.4/10[8]
Metacritic88/100[9]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[10]
American Songwriter4/5 stars[11]
Chicago Tribune3.5/4 stars[12]
Exclaim!10/10[13]
The Independent5/5 stars[14]
Mojo4/5 stars[15]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[16]
Slant Magazine4.5/5 stars[17]
Uncut9/10[18]
ViceA[19]

American Band received very positive reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album holds an average score of 88, based on 18 reviews, which means "universal acclaim".[9] Carl Wilson of Slate called the album their "most powerful release in almost a decade", believing it to be " a kind of rebirth for the band."[20] Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune also believed that the album renewed the band, saying "The band's feel for melodies remains sharp, and Hood's accomplished songwriting is now matched by Cooley, which makes for one of the band's strongest front-to-back albums. At a time in their career when most bands are struggling to match past glories, the Drive-By Truckers sound like the stakes are higher than ever."[12] The Independent praised the album, saying it is "thoughtful, engaging and utterly contemporary, it’s one of the albums of the year.[14] Nico Lang of Salon called American Band rock music's best protest album in years, saying it is "to 2016 what American Idiot represented for the Bush era — a protest album that rages against the political machine."[6]

Accolades

Publication Accolade Year Rank Ref.
Chicago Tribune Top Albums of 2016 2016
7
Paste The 50 Best Albums of 2016 2016
48
Rolling Stone 50 Best Albums of 2016 2016
24
Rough Trade Albums of the Year 2016
63
Pazz & Jop The Top Albums of 2016 2016
17
Metacritic Best Albums of 2016 2016
7

Track listing

No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."Ramon Casiano"Mike Cooley3:58
2."Darkened Flags at the Cusp of Dawn"Patterson Hood2:42
3."Surrender Under Protest"Cooley3:50
4."Guns of Umpqua"Hood3:50
5."Filthy and Fried"Cooley3:38
6."Sun Don't Shine"Hood3:25
7."Kinky Hypocrite"Cooley3:14
8."Ever South"Hood5:45
9."What It Means"Hood6:25
10."Once They Banned Imagine"Cooley4:12
11."Baggage"Hood5:46
Total length:46:45

Personnel

Charts

Chart (2016) Peak
position
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[27] 54
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[28] 138
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[29] 66
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[30] 40
Spanish Albums (PROMUSICAE)[31] 97
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[32] 50
UK Albums (OCC)[33] 29
US Billboard 200[34] 26

References

  1. ^ Caffrey, Dan (September 30, 2016). "Drive-By Truckers – American Band". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved December 14, 2016.
  2. ^ Tunis, Walter (September 27, 2016). "Drive-By Truckers' 'American Band' is an unsettling reality check". Kentucky.com. Retrieved December 14, 2016.
  3. ^ Armstrong, Chuck (September 30, 2016). "Interview: Mike Cooley Discusses New Drive-By Truckers Album, 'American Band'". The Boot. Retrieved December 14, 2016.
  4. ^ a b Bernstein, Jonathan (September 30, 2016). "Inside Drive-By Truckers' Controversial New Album 'American Band'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved December 14, 2016.
  5. ^ Gotrich, Lars (September 22, 2016). "Review: Drive-By Truckers, 'American Band'". NPR.org. Retrieved December 15, 2016.
  6. ^ a b c Lang, Nico (October 12, 2016). "The new "American Idiot": Why Drive-By Truckers' "American Band" is essential listening in the Trump era". Salon. Retrieved December 15, 2016.
  7. ^ Himes, Geoffery (September 27, 2016). "Drive-By Truckers Walk the Bloody Streets". Paste (magazine). Retrieved December 15, 2016.
  8. ^ "American Band by Drive-By Truckers reviews". AnyDecentMusic?. Retrieved October 12, 2019.
  9. ^ a b "Reviews for American Band by Drive-By Truckers". Metacritic. Retrieved October 11, 2016.
  10. ^ Deming, Mark. "American Band – Drive-By Truckers". AllMusic. Retrieved April 22, 2020.
  11. ^ Sodomsky, Sam (September 26, 2016). "Drive-By Truckers: American Band". American Songwriter. Retrieved October 11, 2016.
  12. ^ a b Kot, Greg (October 14, 2016). "Drive-By Truckers raise the stakes on 'American Band'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved October 17, 2016.
  13. ^ Henderson, Stuart (October 5, 2016). "Drive-By Truckers: American Band". Exclaim!. Retrieved October 11, 2016.
  14. ^ a b Gill, Andy (September 28, 2016). "Album reviews: Drive-by Truckers, Van Morrison, Bon Iver, Pixies, Regina Spektor and more". The Independent. Retrieved October 11, 2016.
  15. ^ Simmons, Sylvie (November 2016). "Drive-By Truckers: American Band". Mojo. London (276): 93.
  16. ^ Dolan, Jon (September 30, 2016). "Review: Drive-By Truckers' 'American Band' Is Election-Year Evalution". Rolling Stone. Retrieved October 11, 2016.
  17. ^ Winograd, Jeremy (September 24, 2016). "Drive-By Truckers: American Band". Slant Magazine. Retrieved October 11, 2016.
  18. ^ Gill, Andy (October 2016). "Drive-By Truckers: American Band". Uncut. London (233): 18.
  19. ^ Christgau, Robert (September 30, 2016). "America on the Tip of the Tongue: Expert Witness with Robert Christgau". Vice. Retrieved October 11, 2016.
  20. ^ Wilson, Carl (2016-10-04). "The Drive-By Truckers' American Band Is the Perfect Album for the Year of Trump". Slate. ISSN 1091-2339. Retrieved 2016-12-14.
  21. ^ "Greg Kot's top albums of 2016". Chicago Tribune. November 30, 2016. Retrieved December 9, 2016.
  22. ^ "The 50 Best Albums of 2016". Paste. November 30, 2016. Retrieved December 1, 2016.
  23. ^ "50 Best Albums of 2016". Rolling Stone. November 29, 2016. Retrieved November 29, 2016.
  24. ^ "Albums of the Year". Rough Trade. November 14, 2016. Archived from the original on 2016-11-16. Retrieved November 15, 2016.
  25. ^ "Pazz & Jop, the Village Voice Music Critics Poll: The Top Albums of 2016". www.villagevoice.com. Retrieved 2019-04-26.
  26. ^ "The Best Albums of 2016". Metacritic. Retrieved 2019-04-26.
  27. ^ "Ultratop.be – Drive-By Truckers – American Band" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved October 11, 2016.
  28. ^ "Ultratop.be – Drive-By Truckers – American Band" (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved October 11, 2016.
  29. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Drive-By Truckers – American Band" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved October 11, 2016.
  30. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Drive-By Truckers – American Band". Hung Medien. Retrieved October 11, 2016.
  31. ^ "TOP 100 ALBUMES — SEMANA 40: del 30.09.2016 al 06.10.2016" (in Spanish). Productores de Música de España. Retrieved October 14, 2016.
  32. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Drive-By Truckers – American Band". Hung Medien. Retrieved October 11, 2016.
  33. ^ "Drive-By Truckers | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved October 11, 2016.
  34. ^ "Drive-By Truckers Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved October 11, 2016.