The Moonshine Bandits have been making their unique blend of country, rock, and rap for over a decade now. The one thing I’ve learned about Tex and Bird is that they expect nothing but excellence from their music. Their new album, Blacked Out (set for a July 17th release) is going to raise the bar for sure.
Their rabid fans, branded “shiners”, resemble a blue-collar version of Juggalos, the Insane Clown Posse’s followers, and they maintain a relationship with their fans like no other artist I’ve seen in the country rap game. It’s easy to see that Bird and Tex love the “Shiner Nation” as much as their fans love them. It shows in their live shows, and in their music. The Moonshine Bandits are built for the party, and they fill bars from coast to coast with throngs of people ready to throw down.
Blacked Out is, according to Tex, targeted directly to the men and women who go out and do a hard day’s work every day, and want to have a good time come Friday night:
We set out to make a blue-collar record for people who work their asses off and, come Friday and Saturday, just want to let loose and party, that was the theme of the album from Day One.
They worked with several new “hit maker” writing partners for the new release, including Ira Dean, of Trick Pony, who appeared to get the group’s vibe right-off. Dean co-wrote “I Earned It” with the duo. As Bird explained:
Ira basically talks in song lyrics. He wrote ‘I Earned It’ with us, and when you listen to it, it’s not really rapping. It’s spoken word, which is a different delivery than anything we’ve ever done. And it fits the album perfectly.
Every song on the album can stand on its own merits, but there are stand-outs that are destined to be fan favorites for years to come.
When you put on Blacked Out, the first song you’ll hear is “Deadman’s Hand”, and it’s a great prep for the kind of music you should expect to hear throughout the album. It’s got a little rapping, a nice bass-line, a kick-ass guitar solo, and some really good harmonies, which honestly surprised me a little. Probably as close to a “radio friendly” song as the Moonshine Bandits have ever released, “Deadman’s Hand” has an almost pop feel that underscores how wide an audience this California-based duo can play to.
Another Stand-Out on Blacked Out is “Lasso”, a melodic tune with probably the best rapping on the album. It’s an anthem for the hard workers who just want a release after a hard week on the job. The Moonshine Bandits want you to wave your rebel flag around like a lasso. It’s one of my favorite songs on the album.
On Blacked Out, the duo reached out to a lot of their friends and label-mates for features, including Sarah Ross who teams up with the guys for “Step”, another favorite track of mine. It’s some of the best I’ve heard from Ross, and Tex and Bird’s performance is solid, which you’d expect from the music veterans.
The track to listen out for is “Outback” (Extended) which features Durwood Black of Burn County, Redneck Souljers, D. Thrash (Jawga Boyz), Demun Jones, Bubba Sparxxx, Lenny Cooper, Jeff McCool (Moccasin Creek) and The Lacs. This harmonica infused, bass thumping party song is probably the greatest gathering of Country Rapper artists ever assembled for one song. The result is eight-plus minutes of classic Country Rap. There’s something about the Moonshine Bandits that seems to make the artists they feature bring out their best, and “Outback” showcases some of the best rapping from all of these guys I’ve heard to date.
Colt Ford is featured on the “Full Throttle” remix, and even the King Of Country Rap seems to be stepping up his game for these guys. Colt seems to show a little edge when he works with The Bandits. Ford’s more boastful, and he seems more confident. I’ve noticed this confidence before when he’s worked with the Moonshine Bandits, and”Full Throttle” again shows Colt Ford throwing out some of the best raps I’ve heard him spit.
The album was produced by Ty Weathers and Durwood Black, and the production quality is perfect. The Moonshine Bandits have always had great production, but there’s a crispness in Blacked Out, I hadn’t heard on the other albums.
There’s no doubt, if you’ve liked what you’ve heard from the Moonshine Bandits until now, you’re going to love Blacked Out. It’s the best album they’ve put together yet. What this new album should do for the Moonshine Bandits, though is further broaden their fan base. Blacked Out is a culmination of years of hard work in the clubs and the studio. They sought out the best on the album to collaborate with, and what they got was the most musically diverse album I’ve heard this year.