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Sunday Sculpt #1

I mentioned about a month ago that I was unsure whether I wanted to go forward with the Sunday Shuffle on a regular basis or not. I've had the idea of the Sunday Sculpt in my head for many months, but I wasn't sure if it was something I really wanted to commit to. Well, I can at least try it out and see if I like it. So, here we are.

What is the Sunday Sculpt? It's a way for me to include music by artists that I mostly have on CD. Obviously, I can't shuffle massive amounts of albums, as would be the case for, say, Springsteen or Tom Petty. I still don't want to ignore all this music I love. I also like creating playlists, but I haven't really put one together in a while. The Sunday Sculpt is a way to combine those two desires. I'll come up with a spontaneous playlist for one artist (or maybe based around a theme at some point) and instead of putting play counts and last played information, I'll write a few words about why I chose the song or what have you. I'm not necessarily going to abandon the Sunday Shuffle either; perhaps some months will be equally split between the two, or maybe I'll get into a groove with one or the other. Please let me know what you think of the idea and if you have any suggestions.

For the inaugural edition, I'm going to focus on the Drive-By Truckers. They're putting out a new album, American Band, on Friday and I'm really excited to hear it. Three tracks have been released ahead of the album and I've liked them all. I became a fan of the band when I first heard them on KEXP when The Dirty South was coming out in 2004. I went to visit my brother that fall and heard Decoration Day for the first time; I was all in. I have every one of their albums, including the B-sides collection, the three live records, and a couple DVDs. Ten songs can't begin to cover everything I love about this band, but it's a start. For today, I'll just focus on songs by Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley, who are currently the only members of the band writing for their records. I hope you check out the songs on Spotify.

1. Lookout Mountain (from The Dirty South) - This was my first favorite song of theirs. The riff is so strong and crushing that you can just get lost in it. Once you listen to the lyrics, you're crushed even further by this tale of despair. Who's going to lay there passing blame, indeed, Patterson.

2. Marry Me (from Decoration Day) - "Well, my daddy didn't pull out/But he never apologized/Rock and roll means well/But it can't help telling young boys lies" is how this Cooley track starts and it's a perfect example of his way with words. His way with music is pretty good too, as this song is a prime slab of Stones-like rock.

3. Sinkhole (from Decoration Day) - Here's another angry Hood song about bankers set to a galloping beat and another great riff. This one is dark - the narrator goes so far to suggest murdering the banker man and still being able to go to church and look the preacher in the eye. I love it.

4. Carl Perkins' Cadillac (from The Dirty South) - "Life ain't nothing but a blending up of all the ups and downs" is how Cooley starts this tale of Sam Phillips, Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley, and Johnny Cash back in the Sun Records days. It's a great story set to a lighter beat with some twang in the guitar. I could keep going with songs off of these two albums, but let's move on to something else next...

5.  That Man I Shot (from Brighter Than Creation's Dark) - I love this album and I wanted to make sure it was represented. This song is about a soldier wrestling with killing a man, even though that killing may have been justified. The lyrics are raw and the music matches it, wailing guitars and all.

6. A Ghost To Most (from Brighter Than Creation's Dark) - "I guess I'll never grow sideburns/It's a shame with all I got to go between" is yet another killer opening line from Cooley. Frankly, this song is full of fantastic lines. It's also a more-acoustic based song with some great slide guitar acting as the main riff.

7. Let There Be Rock (from Southern Rock Opera) - This is Hood's story of growing up, getting drunk, and going to rock shows. It is so full of life that I can't help but smile when I listen. It rocks well enough to live up to its title too - check those twin guitar leads at the end!

8. Birthday Boy (from The Big To-Do) - Cooley with another great story song about a stripper who has no illusions about the men who come to ogle her (and more). It's sad and smart and full of wry humor - "Pretty girls from the smallest towns/Get remembered like storms and drought/That old men talk about for years to come/I guess that's why they give us names/So a few old men can say they saw us rain when we were young." Great, right?

9. Zip City (from Southern Rock Opera) - My favorite Cooley song, though, is this one right here. It tells the story of a kid who's looking to get laid, but his girlfriend isn't putting out. He's also looking for something more in life and knows that this girl isn't his only chance. For now, he's marking time and waiting to make his move. The riff is perfect and Cooley sings the hell out of it.

10. Grand Canyon (from English Oceans) - Hood has a knack for writing sprawling, ruminative songs that close many of their albums (see also "Angels and Fuselage," "A World of Hurt," and "Monument Valley"). This one was written for their merch guy, Craig Lieske, who passed away much too young. It's a beautiful song and a great way to close out this first Sunday Sculpt.

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