Indie Rock Storytellers
by Dan Weiss | March 30, 2014
The 2000s birthed -- or finally put the spotlight on -- some of the greatest lyricists in America, even if they happened to play nothing but an acoustic guitar through a lo-fi boombox, as The Mountain Goats' John Darnielle did to record the classic "The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton." Some used to argue The Hold Steady's Craig Finn was merely talking rather than singing, which is more apparent on the earlier "Cattle and the Creeping Things" than the clairvoyant racehorse fable "Chips Ahoy!", which quickly launched his band into the melodic big leagues. The Decemberists made their name with an epic tale of battling inside a giant whale ("The Mariner's Revenge Song"), while Okkervil River's eye for musical references made songs like "On Tour with Zykos" a truly one-of-a-kind confessional because, well, Will Sheff could've only written it while on tour with Zykos. The most Americana of these bands, though, is Drive-By Truckers, a three-guitar Skynyrd-style unit that happens to have some of the most amazing tales in post-millennial rock, period. The murdered family in "Two Daughters and a Beautiful Wife" and the soldiers sharing the foxhole nightmare "That Man I Shot" all get their well-detailed and poignant due.