I hate when people say “country music is dead”. If we learned anything in 2017, it’s that just because mainstream radio isn’t playing it, it doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of people listening to it. And just because mainstream radio isn’t playing it, it doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of people still making actual country music. Case in point: Mike and the Moonpies. These guys are the real deal. They’re actual country musicians, playing actual country music, and writing actual country songs…and best of all it’s pretty damn good. Their 36K monthly listeners on Spotify think so too!
This Friday (2/2), the Austin,Texas based band, will be releasing their 5th album, “Steak Night at the Prairie Rose” and we think it’s their best yet!
Recorded at Yellow Dog Studios in Wimberley, Texas, ‘Steak Night at the Prairie Rose’ was produced by Adam Odor and features the musicianship and artistry of frontman/guitarist Mike Harmeier, guitarist Catlin Rutherford, drummer Kyle Ponder, bassist Preston Rhone, steel guitarist Zachary Moulton, and piano, organ and Wurlitzer player John Carbone.
From the first note of the album the listener is hurreled in the world of old-soul honky-tonk with opener “Road Crew” and the infections energy of good times, interesting people, and real life kept us playing through the end of the record again and again. Once it grabs a hold of you, it doesn’t let you go!
Most notable are the 80’s country undertones that can found laced throughout the entire production, which give it a nostalgic vibe and distinctive sound. It transports the listener in to a time and place where they can’t help but hear the instruments and listen to the songwriting. It’s real and impossible not to dive in to…appreciate….resonate with it.
Country music has always been about the songwriting. No other genre writes about heartache, small-town life, honest folks, and struggle the way (real) country music does and the instruments and production are there to compliment it, not overshadow it by going over the top! With so many albums over-produced these days, it was such a breath of fresh air to listen to project where the production was accomplished through real instruments and the ability of talented musicians, rather than a computer and keyboard. Everything is in sync. It’s authentic, it’s original and it’s good. What more are you looking for in album?
Stand out track “Beaches of Biloxi” most encapsulates the 80’s contemporary country sound and drives it home with the vivid songwriting. You can see Harmeier, you can see the gin in his hand, you can see the dim, red-carpeted riverboat casino, and you see that damn dirty dealer pull the flush out on the river.. You can feel the disappointment of the gambling losses, the resentment towards the seasoned, mustached dealer and his sly grin, the fuzz of the gin, and the punch to the gut of all it. You can see it, you can feel it, and you live it with the character! And what better setting for a track laced with 80’s contemporary country influences?
Track #8, “The Worst Thing” also really stood out to us. This one dives in to regrets, mistakes, and heartache and even though the writing hits the bottom of the soul, the three quarter time, key change, and riveting music give it more of contemplative theme, rather than one to be sulked in and stewed over. It adds a bit of complexity to it and makes you reflect back on your own “worst things”. I always dig songs that go the introspective route, which often adds a layer to the track and gets the listener to go beyond the song to their own personal correlations.
Our *PICK* of the album is title track, “Steak Night at The Prairie Rose”. Perhaps it’s the deep personal connections that bleeds through from Harmeier – perhaps it’s the my own personal connection of sharing musical experiences with my old man, and now getting to share those with son… Whatever it is, the people, the places, and story paint such an enchanting picture. Even though it hits on some tough childhood experiences like divorce, remarriage, struggling in school, etc.. it pushes past that and lets the warmth of father-son bonding and the comfort of an old familiar place take the center-stage of the song. It’s often the struggles in life that help us appreciate the things that get us through those struggles and this song illustrates that perfectly!
The album drops this Friday and we definitely encourage you to get your hands on it. It’s a must-listen for country music enthusiasts and anyone who enjoys good country music! In the meantime enjoy their recently released music video to the album opener, “Road Crew” below, and stay tuned to the band’s social media for updates on the record release!
You can also hear a few of our favorite tracks that have already been released, as well as other great Texas country, red dirt, and americana here on our TMP Spotify Playlist: https://open.spotify.com/user/texas_music_pickers/playlist/4X1EDu99kIPVqHleQfLen2
Music addict, a sucker for heartbreak songs, and avid Houston sports fan! I’am also the Editor-in-Chief of Texas Music Pickers.