One of the most appealing things about alternative country artists and groups is the fact that they draw from all things musically American. This genre is filled with acts channeling both traditional American country as well as the beginnings of rock and roll. So many artists have approached this musical style in different ways, from Wilco to the Avett Brothers, but The Drive-By Truckers have always weighed more heavily on influence from the “country” portion of their genre. Their 2011 release Go-Go Boots is very much in line with this description, while at the same time pulling from a larger bag of inspiration in order to expand upon the groups style and sound.
There are still songs such as “The Weakest Man” that, from its Johnny Cash acoustic guitar strumming to the country croon made to rival Don Williams, don’t land very far from their country roots, but the Truckers craft an album here that transitions from such a classically country song into “Used To Be A Cop,” a song that falls somewhere between modern country, mid-career Wilco, and the kinds of rock music that is made for people to dance to. In moments such as these the album seems to take the genre of alternative country to be two parts that never meet, making songs that are one or the other, but not both.
The strongest moments of Go-Go Boots are where the group succeeds in fusing the two genres. “The Thanksgiving Filter,” is a great example of this fusion; this alt-country blend is obviously how the band is trying to represent itself, being the lead single from the album. The quickest way to make this album go from a good listen to a great listen would have been to cut out a few tracks. With a fun time a little over an hour, making a more concise and stylistically consistent record may have been a better path to follow.
WPGU Music Staff Rating: W-P-½
Key Tracks: “I Do Believe”, “Assholes” and “The Fireplace Poker”
Recommended if you like: Son Volt, Robert Randolph & The Family Band, and Uncle Tupelo.
W = Poor
W-P = Fair
W-P-G = Great
W-P-G-U = An instant classic!