ALBUM | Not many bands hit their creative peak 11 albums and 20 years in, but the Drive-By Truckers did it on their searing new album AMERICAN BAND. Rooted in the straightforward guitar rock and hyperliterate lyrics fans have long known from songwriting partners Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley, American Band is a bold step into the present from a band often mining the country's past for inspiration. Subjects range from border paranoia ("Ramon Casiano") to school shootings ("Guns of Umpqua") to police racism ("What It Means") and, of course, the progressive Alabama natives address what they call the "duality of the Southern thing" in "Surrender Under Protest" and "Darkened Flags on the Cusp of Dawn." The songs are ultimately more life-affirming than the bummer such serious topics suggest. That's a trick few of the Truckers' peers can pull off.
TV | It's not news that Donald Glover is a multitalented dude, as evidenced by his jobs writing for 30 Rock, acting on Community and blowing up in the rap world under his Childish Gambino moniker. Even so, there was no reason to think ATLANTA, the FX network show he created and runs, would be as brilliant as it is. The languidly paced show lands somewhere between sitcom and drama as it tells stories never seen on broadcast TV involving music-biz wannabe Earn (Glover), as he tries to manage his rapper cousin to riches while dealing with being underemployed, trying to support his daughter and the trials of life in the low-income side of the ATL.
READ | This presidential campaign is unlike any we've seen before, thanks to a highly entertaining, if utterly frightening, TV star/businessman taking over the Grand Old Party. Donald Trump's rise has exposed rifts in the Republican Party between the old-school conservative establishment and the rabid rising tide of Tea Partiers and newly engaged voters who won Trump the party's nomination. The New York Times Magazine delves into how that schism within the GOP played out among conservative pundits in a great read, "HOW DONALD TRUMP SET OFF A CIVIL WAR WITHIN THE RIGHT-WING MEDIA." ♦