Chuck Eddy recently posted scathing enough reviews of the new Northern State and Drive-By Truckers albums on ILX that I have yet to check out their new releases despite their previous works appearing in my top ten for 2003. Last night I checked out both band's sites and listened to the samples for All City and 3 mp3s from The Dirty South.
While Northern State's new tracks sound as flat and uninvolving as he implied (only the closing Har Mar track made me regret the 30-second fade-out), I was knocked out by how much I enjoyed the DBT tracks. Jason Isbell's numbers on Decoration Day were a bit staid for my taste, but his "Never Gonna Change" moved plenty for this Crazy Horse fan. "Putting People On The Moon" is a fine "Rain On The Scarecrow"-style slice of indignance and "Carl Perkins' Cadillac"'s plenty enjoyable too. If there's an unconscionable amount of drag-ass, petrified alt-country on the album, its not audible here. There's so much of what I enjoy about the previous Drive-By Truckers' releases (distorted guitar interplay, proud vocals full of lyrical brimstone and wit) on these tracks that I'm embarassed I don't have the album already. I was going to get it today but my store of choice just ran out of copies. I deserve to wait till Tuesday.