Drive-By Truckers: Go-Go Boots

It didn't used to be this way.

Drive-By Truckers

Go-Go Boots

Label: ATO
US Release Date: 2011-02-15
UK Release Date: 2011-02-14

"It's too soon".

"Why not just release one classic album that has the best elements of both albums?"

"Almost every time an artist starts to get prolific, they get into trouble".

These gripes/statements would be just superstition if each one didn't have a bit of truth behind them. When a band is unsatisfied with the final product opts for a few extra months in the studio, it oftentimes results in a superior album. There are countless examples of flawed double albums (especially in the age of CDs) that could have easily been pared down to a great single album. And in terms of being prolific, artists such as Ryan Adams, Frank Black, and Prince have all weathered some criticisms for their occasional lack of self-editing.

Of course, the best way to diffuse this criticism is to release two classic albums. Another approach is to release two vastly different albums. The Drive-By Truckers has opted for the latter approach.

On last year's The Big To-Do, the Drive-By Truckers, partly energized by the move to a new record label, released a barnstorming album that rocked as hard as any of their early releases, but also had a maturity to pull off some great narratives and whiskey-teared ballads. On this year's Go-Go Boots, the statements aren't nearly as boisterous, the mood is more consistent, and the characters that occupy the songs are more fleshed out.

The first four songs are bluesy, bar-band standards that we've come to expect from the Truckers. On "Cartoon Gold", guitarist Mike Cooley delivers such black humor zingers as "It's like bringing flowers to your mama and tracking dogshit all over the floor/Jesus made the flowers, but it took a dog to make the story good" over a shuffling percussion.

The unfortunate "sameness" of the four tracks on Go-Go Boots mars this album just like the latter half slightly tarnished the otherwise stellar The Big To-Do. But Boots takes a remarkable upswing with the track "Ray's Automatic Weapon". It breaks the monotony set by the first four songs. Jay Gonzalez's sparse piano in the track makes the end of each stanza hit like a bullet.

"I Used to Be a Cop", and "The Fireplace Poker", both stretch out like mini novellas, each one going past the seven minute mark. The remarkable thing is that neither song feels bloated. Hood takes his time, painting the sketches of a disgraced officer and a minister who plots to kill his wife. The ending line, "Better call it suicide/justice has been heard", packs a whallop of an impact as Brad Morgan's dutiful drumming and Mike Cooley and Hood's guitar work move the story along with a restrained purpose.

The general layout of songs on Go-Go Boots merits repeat listening as the album's strongest material is reserved for its second half. The only major gripe of the album is Shonna Tucker's vocals, usually reserved for the band's best material, are underutilized. But that doesn’t keep Go-Go Boots from being a worthy purchase. With Hood's songwriting remaining this solid and the band comfortably settling into a great groove, Go-Go Boots could have been four years in the waiting and still would not have disappointed.


The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.