The Red Alert
The Red Alert

Drive-By Truckers

The Big To-Do


Record Review by Angel M. Baker


When you eat at IHOP, you expect to get a big f*ck off plate of pancakes with a gang of butter and syrup. When you hit the Circus Circus buffet in Vegas, you expect at least three varieties of slightly undercooked roast beef and cotton candy colored ambrosia. Just like when you listen to Drive By Truckers, you expect a generous helping of greasy southern fried rock and roll. The Big To-Do, DBT’s eighth full-length record, delivers that hefty helping of beer gut busting, boot stomping raucous rock, thick with tales of daddies dying, days of drinking, and working shitty jobs.


Where 2005’s Gangstabilly and Pizza Deliverance lauded white trash hillbilly self-congratulation with a comedic sense of humility, The Big To-Do plays more like DBT’s earlier, "the south is a wasteland" records: 2004’s The Dirty South and 2002’s Southern Rock Opera. Reviewers out there seem pleased with this return to the familiar and more commercially viable brand of DBT’s product, but what makes DBT great is their consistent and subtle manipulation of their distinctly recognizable sound. With The Big To-Do, DBT elevate the familiar, amplify the down-on-your-luck camaraderie, and celebrate the moonshine guzzling sidearm carrying redneck in us all. That means you and me.


Highlights to this record are “The 4th Night Of My Drinking,” a testament to blue collar livers everywhere, “The Wig He Made Her Wear” a slow and low venture in to the macabre, the two featuring Shonna Tucker’s heavenly twangy vocals, “You Got Another” (a heartfelt serenade to a cheater) and “(It’s Gonna Be) I Told You So” (a sassy rebellion to somebody who doesn’t listen), and “After The Scene Dies,” a real lighter-wielding arena rock anthem.  


There are no disposable tracks on The Big To-Do. The first single, “This Fucking Job,” and “Get Downtown” try mightily to bring the house down. “Birthday Boy” and “Drag The Lake Charlie” play up the obscure but DBT keep it honest with a heavy lead guitar and simple, but adamant drums (think Old 97’s with Drag It Up or Social Distortion with Somewhere Between Heaven And Hell). “Santa Fe,” a sweet pedal steel love song, feels like the record’s only track that may have been thrown in for the ladies, but doesn’t disappoint. “The Flying Wallenda’s” and “Eyes Like Glue” round out the album on a somber note, both more ballads than anthems, and both as haunting as a trailer park built on a burial ground.


The Big To-Do is as close to a barnburner as you’ll get in a record for a while. But rumor has it that DBT wrote so many songs for this record, they have extras and we may get another album within the year.


More by this writer:

Josh Ritter - So Runs the World Away

Trainwreck - The Wreckoning

The Hold Steady - Heaven is Whenever