Top positive review
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Well balanced & again quality
on 3 March 2014
"English Oceans" is a grower. After the first time of listening it looks like only a few tracks are worth mentioning. But after a few turns, a night sleep and a new turn suddenly you realize: It's well structured, well balanced and, yes indeed, yet again a good quality DbT record. Big praise for the rhythm section, they pushes you head-nodding through the songs, especially on the first half of the record. The tougher rock influence like on "The big to-do" and on the "Blessing" record is less on "English Oceans", but that is not like a big miss. The band still rocks.
Cooley and Hood their songwriting and songs are somehow more woven into each other. Maybe the second song "When he's gone" and the third "Primer coat" are examples how. You would think that "When he's gone out" is about to fade out when suddenly Cooley takes over the vocals with a slightly change of rhythm. Only later you will realize these are two songs.
Just as on previous records also this one contains a few surprises: The use of horns on the opening track, the fast rocking `S*** Shots Count' by Cooley. It makes you think the song is one of the best lost and missing tracks of Rolling Stones' "Exile on Main Street." Another is the longer "Pauline Hawkins" with the let's-turn-into-a-southern-rock-short-jam ending. At first I could not fully understand the somewhat strange ending. Now listening to the song within the structure of the record I go crazy for it. Last one is album closer small epic "Grand Canyon": it rides, it rolls, it rides, it rolls, it rides, it rolls. It's Hood his strong ode to the Grand Canyon.
Cooley's gem on "English Oceans" is the faster, semi-acoustic "Made up English Oceans". It's like he wrote it for a modern western. It's the song that makes you turn your head a little bit anxious to see if somebody is chasing you.
The fans know DbT are true, faithful exponents for the working man. Always they have some strong daily life stories to tell in the songs. More specific Patterson Hood has always at least one excellent outstanding story. This time I think it's his ode to the politician in "The part of him". He expresses with words the feeling many people have with (certain) politicians. You have voted for them, but all the promises were just empty words to get them selected as your politician. Yes, "he was a piece of work, more or less a total jerk." Just before the record release the band has published a more intimate, acoustic and almost ultimate version of this song. The record version rocks a little bit more because of the use of electric guitar and full drum.
The middle-3/4 section `Til He's dead or Rising/Hangin On/Natural light/When Walter Went Crazy' is my lesser favorite part, because I slowly started to lose attention. I compare it with the middle section on "Brighter then Creation Dark" or the section of slow songs on "Go-Go-Boots". Luckily Cooley picks the attention with the semi-fast acoustic `First Air of Autumn'.
I bought the record without listening to the songs in the record store. I have for 100% no regrets. "English Oceans" by Drive-by Truckers: It's like this band is not capable of making a bad record. Or bad album sleeves. We should praise them for such quality.