Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
So what do you get when cross incredible musicians with punk rock, country music, and a little bit of that Replacements and Old 97s recklessness? You get Vandoliers from Dallas, Texas. Amazing harmonies and playing are the trademarks of this fine musical outfit. You have: Joshua “Fireball” Fleming on vocals and acoustic guitar; Dustin “Midnight” Fleming on electric guitar and pedal steel; Cory “Round Up” Graves on piano, trumpet, and vocals; Guyton “Dixieland” Sanders on drums; Travis “McFiddlesticks” Curry on fiddle; and last, but not least Mark “Crossroads” Moncrieff on bass.
The album starts off really strong with Runaway Sons which is a barn burning rock and roll number about an early band they were in called Runaway Sons. This song is brilliant. The vocals are amazing and work so well with the acoustic guitar intro and slowly builds up to a fever pitch. Although the song is a bit bit loud and irreverent, the playing is perfect and so are the vocals and harmonies. The production and mix on this song and the album is flawless.
These guys also know how to play that rough and rowdy country music as well. Hank (Track 6) is the perfect example. This song definitely is in the vain of Old 97s. Not surprising since both outfits hail from the Big D. This song has that humor and fast paced country stomp that the Old 97s made famous. It is a very lively upbeat number that will have the crowd on their feet when this is played live.
Those of you that are fans of Tejano or Tex Mex style country, worry not. Wildflower (Track 3) has that covered with plenty of horns to make it authentic. Again, the vocals on this track are smart and fit perfectly with the instrumentation. Oh, did I mention fiddles and banjo as well? This song pulls out all the stops to make a radio friendly song that still has plenty of grit and edge to it. This is no wimpy pop music. This music has cojones, but it also happens to be serious ear candy.
I have a strong feeling that the Vandoliers are headed for the stratosphere like Sturgill Simpson and Margo Price. They have got “it”. That “it” is the right blend of showmanship, songwriting, and musicianship to make a band that is headed for greatness. This album will be in my playlist for a long time, hopefully yours as well.