For fans of country artists such as Brad Paisley and Frankie Ballard to fans of punk and indie bands such as Alkaline Trio and Frank Turner, punk-country crossover band Vandoliers are an intriguing six piece to delve into. Building on the success of their three previous studio albums, Vandoliers provide their best musical work yet with ‘The Vandoliers’.
Few bands can spend a month on the road with punkers Flogging Molly and then turn around a week later and open the first two reunion shows for independent country legends the Turnpike Troubadours, as Vandoliers did earlier this year. Their music effortlessly brings together the square toes and the steel toes and this record continues to build upon that success.
The band were supposed to be heading to Europe just at the brink of the pandemic which in turn shut down their touring as well as their recording plans with the music world closing down one piece at a time. The album that came to fruition post pandemic is a combination of pre, intra and post Covid writing in which time the band went through a series of personal changes that helped make the album what it is today. Talking about the record, frontman Joshua Fleming said “we wanted to make an album that had the same power as our live performance — a tight, big sound. Through trial and error, label closure, fatherhood, sobriety, relapse, the album grew on its own stylistically. After the hardest two years of my life, we created a collection of songs that push us as musicians, songs that reaffirmed my place as a songwriter and a faith in ourselves as a band I don’t think we had before.”
The album kicks off with ‘Lighthouse’, a nod to Flemings daughter in which he tells the story of him being a guiding light home for her as she grows up whilst the second song ‘Every Saturday Night’ is a love letter to the days of pre pandemic times in which whisky dive bars, post show drives and a social scene were a common occurrence. Ironically the video that accompanies this song has the band donning masks whilst recording in the studio. The variety of themes covered on this record is diverse but even so the band have excelled at creating a collection of catchy, toe tapping songs that won’t leave your head all day or maybe even all week.
The latest single ‘Bless Your Drunken Heart’ is easily going to become a fan favourite with the bands punk influences combining with a country train drum beat and a set of sing..or rather shout along lyrics. Their already renowned stage presence will bring this one to life in a live show as much as it already has a life on its own as a recording. The driving beats continue in ‘Better Run’ which initially gives off 80’s classic rock hints but develops into something very Vandoliers-esque.
‘Steer Me Wrong’ highlights the musicality of fiddle player Travis Curry where as ‘Before The Fall’ introduces mariachi horns to the back end of the album. It takes a special Texas band to include that type of brass into a song without it sounding out of place and although it is one of the more laid back songs on the album, it doesn’t bring the pace of the album to a halt, in fact the album keeps a solid pace from start to finish. Honky tonk piano also manages to sneak its way into the well humoured number ‘I Hope Your Heartaches A Hit’ written by Cory Graves.
Recorded with Grammy-winning producer Eric Delegard at Reeltime Audio in Denton, Texas, ‘The Vandoliers’ is one the standout albums of the year for country and rock/punk fans with the Lone Star state band creating a cohesive, well written collection of songs which will help solidify their position as a hard working, touring, fun loving band.
Vandoliers are vocalist Joshua Fleming, bassist Mark Moncrieff, drummer Trey Alfaro, fiddler Travis Curry, electric guitarist Dustin Fleming, and multi-instrumentalist Cory Graves.
Track list: 1. The Lighthouse 2. Every Saturday Night 3. Howlin’ 4. Bless Your Drunken Heart 5. Down and Out 6. Better Run 7. Steer Me Wrong 8. Before the Fall 9. Hope Your Heartache’s a Hit 10. Too Drunk to Drink 11. Wise County Friday Night Record label: Vandoliers Release date: 12th August 2022 Buy ‘The Vandoliers’ now