Label: ATO Records (AT0)
The flag hoisted to half-mast that adorns the cover says it all: American Band is a tough, unflinching and, at times, harrowing look at the turbulent political climate of the United States in 2016. Using their trademark mix of muscular Southern rock and Muscle Shoals-bred soul for a backdrop, the band rails against Southerners who still cling to the Confederate flag (“Surrender Under Protest”), voices its support for Black Lives Matter (“What It Means”) and meditates upon the tragedy of mass shootings (“Guns if Umpqua”). One of the great gifts the band’s chief songwriters, Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley, each possess is an ability to be equally topical and universal in their messages. It means that this powerful music will resonate long after the troubled era that birthed it has faded into the past.