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Drive-By Truckers

Without a proper "new" album, the Drive-By Truckers' output this year puts most other bands to shame. First came co-front man Patterson Hood's second solo LP, the hair-raising Murdering Oscar, then the thunderous Live from Austin City Limits CD/DVD package, and finally last month's The Fine Print: A Collection of Oddities and Rarities 2003-2008 (all on New West). Remarkably consistent for an odds-and-sods LP, Fine Print highlights the Athens, Georgia, quintet's myriad strengths: well-chosen, well-executed covers — Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers' "Rebels," Tom T. Hall's "Mama Bake a Pie (Daddy Kill a Chicken)," Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" — surly explorations of Lynyrd Skynyrd's legacy ("Play It All Night Long") and Frontline-quality sketches of post-WWII Dixie life from Hood ("The Great Car Dealer War"), DBT co-founder Mike Cooley ("Uncle Frank") and even ex-Trucker Jason Isbell ("TVA"). It even spawned a satellite-radio hit single in the funny/sad "George Jones Talkin' Cell Phone Blues." Even at rest — and with not one but two studio albums due in 2010 — there's no stopping the Truckers. Roll on.

 
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