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"Alabama rockers the Drive-By Truckers are today's premier purveyors of Southern mythology, of legends mined from a place where kudzu vines constantly terrorize the collard patch amid threats of world war, death, and taxes. For the group's sixth album, the mood is decidedly darker than on earlier efforts: Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley, the Truckers' songwriters, rival Flannery O'Connor and Carson McCullers' gothic storytelling skills, wielding tales of Sam Phillips and Buford Pusser as easily as the latter brandished his big stick.
While the opening track, ""Where the Devil Don't Stay,"" wholeheartedly channels Steve Earle's ""Copperhead Road,"" other songs overlay lyrics worthy of Tony Joe White with chunky, clanging riffs that could've been conceived in a railyard. On ""Boys From Alabama,"" an organ swirls through the mix as guitars bristle and drummer Brad Morgan pounds out a metallic beat; for ""Puttin' People on the Moon,"" Hood takes on politics in an odd growl as the band simmers, then soars, behind him.
Hood's solo album, Killers and Stars, a set of home recordings cut in his kitchen in 2001, breaks down his creative technique. As a historic document, Killers, which captured Hood at an admitted low point, proves invaluable. The lyrics-not always delivered directly into a mic-are often difficult to catch, but powerhouse songs like ""Frances Farmer"" and ""The Assassin"" succeed nonetheless. The only drawback is Hood's own voice, as nasal and broken as Neil Young after a carton of Camels."