The Vandoliers

I love live music so much. I love the energy, I love the crowds, I love the experience of hearing something new and being super-impressed.

I got a chance to see Mike and the Moonpies, one of my favorite Texas country bands, at a small venue in Atlanta. I was excited to learn that Vandoliers were opening. They’re a band that pops up on my Spotify suggestions regularly and I like their sound. Plus, if you’ve read any of my posts, you know that I am a huge proponent of getting to the venue early and not missing the opening band.

The Vandoliers is a unique record that sounds like nothing else in my collection while also sounding like many of the records I own.

This record is Texas punk country. This is not hyperbole or exaggeration, it’s the most accurate description I can come up with. Basically, this record is written and recorded as a punk album. It’s very similar to a Dropkick Murphys, Rancid, or Sex Pistols album with one distinction: the band is from Texas.

That means there’s a little twang in the vocals and they play the fiddle and the harmonica and acoustic guitar. Other than that, this is a punk record. These songs are country songs, but so many punk songs could be country songs if you added a fiddle or pedal steel. They share a lot of the same themes.

For me, The Vandoliers highlights the closeness of Celtic music and country music. There’s a documented similarity between the two as many of the instruments used in traditional hillbilly music were brought over by the immigrants that settled in the area. Traditional hillbilly music that became country music is very much rooted in Celtic music. And many of these Texas punk songs could easily be turned into Celtic punk songs.

When this album is not leaning into its punkness, it leans into its Texasness with Tex-Mex-style horns and fiddle work.

This record is fantastic. It is fun and energetic with just a touch of heartbreak. This album is wonderfully Texas, delightfully punk, and solidly country.

My favorite track: Bless Your Drunken Heart


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