From the outset, Drivin’ N Cryin’ has been steeped in the musical history of their Atlanta environs. The band’s second drummer came from a seminal version of The Black Crowes and the guitarist that expanded the band from trio to quartet in 1988 was R.E.M.’s touring guitarist at the time. But the thing that made Drivin’ N Cryin’ one of the area’s favorite bands was the almost heartbreaking honesty and passionate conviction of the band’s primary songwriter, Kevn Kinney. From the gentle keyboard driven Folk of their early indie work to the guitar-heavy Rock bluster of their initial Island albums (particularly 1989’s Mystery Road and 1991’s brilliant Fly Me Courageous, the centerpiece of DNC’s sound, whatever it happened to be, has been Kinney’s magnificent skills as a heart-sleeved songwriter.
Although the band never officially went away, its work over the past decade has definitely taken a back seat to Kinney’s solo career, which has yielded four discs since DNC’s last full album of new material, 1997’s Drivin’ N Cryin’. 2003’s four-song EP, Detroit Rock City, signaled renewed activity but it took another six years for DNC to unleash their first full album in a dozen years, Whatever Happened to the Great American Bubble Factory?.
Seldom has an album been so worth the long wait. The ominously insistent Southern Rock-meets-AC/DC riff that opens “Detroit City” is a harbinger for the smoking, shrieking, soulful Rock that follows on Bubble Factory, from the Crazy Horse-does-Glam swagger and sway of “I See Georgia” and the Ramones-of-the-South snarl of “Get Around Kid” to the Zevonesque fist pump of “Preapproved, Predenied” and the joyous, horn-drenched tent revival of the title track. Even when DNC dials back (“Midwestern Blues,” “Don’t You Know That I Know That You Know”), there is a muscular undercurrent that rumbles through the band’s quietest attempts.
Bubble Factory is a blistering reaffirmation of the needle-pegging power that Drivin’ N Cryin’ churned out with regularity two decades ago when they routinely lived up to their reputation as the American Stones.
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