Fiery Country-Punk With a Side Order of Kick Ass Mariachi!
I really don’t know how they do it; but the home of Insurgent Country, Bloodshot Records has found another gem here……The Vandoliers!
Even before I’d read the Press Release I correctly guessed that these, self proclaimed ‘Converse Cowboys’ must come from Texas; because where else would this fearsome hybrid possibly come from, and indeed they actually hail from Fort Worth.
Last week I played 5 or 6 tracks over a couple of days in the car; and today dressed in a Trucker Cap, a Big Damn Band t-shirt, mirrored Wayfarers and not having shaved for two days I was looking for something to play on a road trip to ‘oil country’ in Teeside, when I remembered this album. So metaphorically pushing the cassette into the player (my trusty i-phone actually) I set off on my journey; and within two minutes of Miles and Miles my Renault Laguna morphed into a Dodge Ram and I was now travelling along the blacktop of Texas with the machine cranked up to TEN.
With a million Alt,Country Rock bands on the circuit you have to be pretty special to stand out these days; and The Vandoliers do that not just with some great songs but they incorporate a good old fashioned fiddle player and a Mariachi style brass section to compliment a singer with a voice that you aren’t born with; but comes from a hard life fronting bands in noisy bars, and a guitarist who out Slash’s Slash, plus a rhythm section that can slide seamlessly between romantic balladry and full on machine gun RAWK with consummate ease and skill.
That’s the background; but what about the songs?
Every one is a 24 carat diamond!
All on Black and Bottom Dollar Boy are both very clever takes on the ‘bad luck’ theme we know and love; but you ain’t heard nothing like this ‘sound’; and they add fresh ‘magic dust’ to a tale of life on the road with Shoshone Rose; making being in a band playing dive bars sound quite romantic.
I guess that’s what I love about these songs; lead guitarist, singer and songwriter Joshua Fleming brings a new spirited and even spunky approach to all the things we take for granted in Country Music.
Sixteen Years appears to detail the band’s or at least singer Travis Curry’s torrid and tragic career to get to today fronting the coolest band this side of the Rio Grande.
There was no better soundtrack to today’s car journey that Nowhere Fast, which now sits alongside Bruce and Chuck Berry on my ‘driving playlist’.
Not everything here is fast and furious; The Vandoliers can do ballads too, with Travis Curry making his fiddle gently weep on Tumbleweed and using the metaphor Cigarettes in The Rain for a fragile and troubled relationship is almost genius, and certainly tear inducing.
Then there is my Favourite Song…… one which caught my attention last week; and because of events during the intervening few days made Troublemaker my current anthem! Combining the Mariachi brass of Ring of Fire, the fiddle from the Devil Went Down To Georgia with a backing band that sound like something from Sun Records on Meth and a singer who sounds like Billy Idol in a Cowboy Hat on a song about someone who could get into an argument in a phone box, only goes some of the way to describe this amazing track!
In these complicated days when it’s hard to know what really constitutes ‘Country Music’, I’m going to point you towards this album…… it will appeal to Cow Punks and Old School Cowboys and Cowgirls, Hipster Alt. Country fans and anyone who just vaguely likes quality, well written, interesting and classy but righteously ragged Rock and Roll!