REVIEW: Vandoliers’ “Troublemaker” is Gritty, Earnest Songs


One of the great recurring themes in rock and roll is that of causing trouble. Vandoliers carries that theme with Troublemaker. The song opens with a driving beat provided by Guyton Sanders. Mark Moncrieff lays down a bass line that also helps propel the song. Then you hear the horns courtesy of Corey Graves. Chances are that you’ll be hooked by the melody and Joshua Fleming’s raspy vocals singing lyrics like, “Daddy told me, and mama tried. Troublemaker ‘til the day that I die.” Then in the instrumental break it’s hard to keep still – especially when you hear Travis Curry sawing on the fiddle. This is a song made for getting people on a dance floor.

For the most part this album is equal parts rock and country with a healthy dose of Tejano sound provided by the horns. “Fallen Again” is a great example. Dustin Fleming turns up the volume on the guitar, and Sanders goes pretty heavy on the drums. On top of that the song is accented by bursts from the horns, which give a Tex-Mex sort of feel to the sound. The Tex-Mex sound is also in the acoustic guitar, which would fit in just as well on a Mavericks record.

“Bottom Dollar Boy” is as catchy a song as you’ll find. The song opens with horns then launches into an uptempo melody that feels a lot like an Old 97s song. Another great thing about this song is the classic theme of being broke. It’s hard not to be drawn in be the lyrics, “I guess I’ll rob a bank or hold up a liquor store. I could steal a truck, sell the parts for a little more. But I ain’t a thief, no criminal mastermind. Just a bottom-dollar boy trying to save his life.”

Another classic theme covered on this album is escaping. “Nowhere Fast” begins with the lyrics “Two kids on the run with the windows rolled down and the radio on.” Like Springsteen and John Mellencamp have sung about countless times, this song tells the story of two people who want to escape where they are while they are still young. It’s easy to imagine this being an anthem for the audience at a Vandoliers show.

This is an album filled with gritty, earnest songs that are equally good for a road trip or a dance floor. The band shows that it belongs right alongside the favorite alt-country bands in your collection. Forever (Bloodshot Records) will be available everywhere on February 22. Order your copy here.

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