The DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS lash out with the powerful, political surprise album “THE NEW OK,” out NOW on CD & red-vinyl LP!

There shouldn’t have been much confusion about which side of the political spectrum the DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS stand on. But if anyone was unclear, the band’s last two releases, American Band and The Unraveling, definitively shut the book on that; on both albums, the DBT’s blasted forth with an invective about the current administration with both barrels aimed squarely at the White House.

The opening title track from their 13th release, THE NEW OK, named after singer/songwriter/guitarist PATTERSON HOOD‘s response when asked how he’s doing these days– sets the stage. “Goons with guns coming out to play/It’s a battle for the very soul of the USA/It’s the new OK,” lays out the blueprint.  And that’s just the start as the group cranks out seven more politically driven, searing originals and a raging cover of The Ramones’ “The KKK Took My Baby Away” in their typically rust colored dirt attack.

THE NEW OK is in-stock NOW at Horizon on CD and red vinyl LP, and you can order it at our webstore HERE.

Recorded after the pandemic made touring  impossible, many of the tracks on The New OK had been either begun, or mostly completed during the Memphis based sessions for The Unraveling.  One dates back to 2011 and another, “The Perilous Night” (with the incendiary lyrics “Dumb, white and angry with their cup half-filled/Running over people down in Charlottesville/White House Fury, it’s the killing side he defends”) was already released as a single. It’s re-recorded here with jazzy piano and a riveting guitar solo to match the similarly styled words. The title tune—interestingly the name of the DBT’s previous release—gets its debut.

The leather tough, clenched-fist rocking slows down for fellow Trucker mainstay MIKE COOLEY’s “Sarah’s Flame.” But the concept is no less intense as he sings “For knowing only Mama’s boys would claim involuntary self-inflicted rage/The tikis would’ve never hit the streets if it weren’t for Sarah’s flame,” clearly directed at the Charlottesville situation. They add R&B horns straight out of Stax/Otis Redding era on “Sea Island Lonely” and “Tough to Let Go,” bringing serious soul into the context of their guitar rocking.

Perhaps the most gut-wrenching song on The New OK is “Watching the Orange Clouds,” a song written the weekend after George Floyd was murdered by police in Minneapolis. “I watched the whole country rise up in a chaotic firestorm of anger and calls for a righteous change,” Hood says in the liner notes. Those feelings saturate the track, leaving the listener with a choice to either confront the evil that lies in front of them or ignore the pain and suffering of their brothers and sisters. This is a struggle Hood elevates in the song, singing with a certain kind of yearning, “I’m trying really hard to find a way to help to make it all better / As I struggle on how and if I should share these stories that are so upsetting / But I’m starting to doubt my own facility of even comprehending my place / It’s too late to try for shelter as the helicopters give it away.”

Before COVID-19 ravaged the globe and a spotlight shone on the racial divisions and hatred that have existed in this country for centuries, The Unraveling proved to be one of the most important albums the Drive-By Truckers ever made. Given the realities of 2020, it’s now matched with the honest and irreplaceable follow-up of The New OK, an album that serves as a manifesto of grief, righteous anger, frustration, and, in a way only the Truckers can spin, a bit of hope.

Combined with The Unraveling, The New OK is a powerful one-two punch to the gut from a band unafraid to lay their political stance out for the world to see. It’s a brave move but as Mike Cooley says, “It’s all we can do.”  

Get The New Ok this Friday at Horizon or in our webstore, and check out these other rough-hewn DBT gems, too!


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