One of the things I love about country music is how truly malleable it is. All you need is a good story and a little bit of attitude and voilà, you have a country song, because at its very base, country music is storytelling. Combine that with the ethos of punk and baby, you've got yourself one hell of a compelling genre.
For the uninitiated, cowpunk is the combination of punk elements—usually high tempo playing and abrasive vocals—with the storytelling of country music. Notable cowpunkers include Social Distortion, Violent Femmes, Jason and the Scorchers, and Rosie Flores. Most of these bands formed in southern California or the UK. On The Native, the second record from Texas country band the Vandoliers, vocalist Josh Fleming and company have brilliantly combined punk, country, Tejano, and rockabilly influences to create a dynamic and modern cowpunk staple. From "Pantego," a rockabilly-influenced song to "Endless Summer," which could be mistaken for an early-2000s Against Me! song, or "Quick to Fire," a song about falling in love that could fit right in on any Jimmy Buffet or Elvis Presley record. Mark Moncrieff, Guyton Sanders, Travis Curry, Dustin Fleming, Cory Graves, and Fleming unite the punk ethos and country ethos in a way that feels both brand new—I can't remember the last time an album felt this Tejano—and warmly familiar.
Listen to the album below. It's out Friday May 26.