How much you enjoy Drive-By Truckers' new album may hinge on which of the band's vocalists you normally gravitate toward. But if you're new to this pioneering alt-country act, English Oceans is a good chance to get acquainted with both performers.
Mike Cooley takes the lead on seven of the album's 13 songs. In recent interviews, he revealed that a significant case of writer's block affected his contributions over the past few years. But he's rebounded in a big way. He starts strong on opening track "Shit Shots Counts," which features a groove fit for an Exile on Main Street-era Rolling Stones song, complete with a horn section. He also makes good with the Southern family drama "Primer Coat" and the country slow-dance tune "Natural Light."
If you're a fan of the other Trucker in the cab, Patterson Hood, there's plenty here to like as well, including the menacing "Pauline Hawkins" and album closer "Grand Canyon."