Review Summary: A bad idea executed perfectly.
It's weird how music works sometimes. Depending on the type of music being created, some aspects are more important than others. Things like substance, style, technical prowess, production, lyrics...all having different levels of importance depending on the kind of music. However, usually the music is a little more...orthodox than Moonshine Bandits' most recent effort, Calicountry
. This album is a mix between country and hip-hop, which isn't exactly an idea that sounds great on paper. It's a strange pairing, and when a curveball like this gets thrown, those aforementioned aspects all stop being important. It all comes down to how well they can blend their influences without sounding ridiculous. If they can manage to execute an idea like that well, that's a feat in of itself, and that's the only thing that matters. That's exactly what the Moonshine Bandits did with this record. The hip-hop influence is juxtaposed so smoothly with the omnipresent country tinge, at no point during this album does it come off as awkward or forced. I can't image this idea working better than it did on Calicountry
One thing about this record that's really interesting is that it's no more country than it is hip-hop. There's a near-perfect balance throughout the entire project. Of course it feels more like a country album due to the subject matter being pretty much exclusively about the country-boy lifestyle; drinking, driving big trucks, raising hell, and just generally describing their lives as proud rednecks. They're definitely not great rappers, but they get their point across without being corny, and they've got a certain flow that's very bouncy and infectious, albeit simple, something like a very much improved, country version of Hollywood Undead. They know what they're good at, and songs like "We All Country" and "California Country" show that. Fun, energetic, mindlessly catchy tracks that are perfect for the soundtrack to your next whisky binge. Their country singing voices are great, too, and put to good use on many of the choruses, especially on the more serious tracks. Though hard to take all that seriously, the songs "Much Better" and "Bar Stool" demonstrate this ability well. Their country/rock influenced production fits their voices perfectly, as well. Whether it's one of the hype tracks or the ballads, the beats consistently work to provide a country atmosphere while still maintaining those hip-hop qualities, and somehow not coming off as corny. The only real downside about this album is that the sheer ridiculousness of the idea is very difficult to take seriously, and that it's really nothing more than a fun album rather than anything with real substance, interesting songwriting, or replay value. It's more than a novelty, but not quite a record that provides much reason to go back for repeated listens.
is, by all means, a fantastic record for what it is. Any preconceived notions based on the idea behind the music rather than the music itself should be suppressed as much as possible before listening. Sadly, Moonshine Bandits will always have that negative stigma as "country rappers", a concept that a lot of people would write off as a bad joke, no matter seriously they take their craft or how close they've come to perfecting it. It's a good thing that this record doesn't have to be taken seriously in order to be enjoyed. Fans of either hip-hop or country should be able to find something they like about both sides of the spectrum on Calicountry
, since the two genres are made to complement each other so well here. Moonshine Bandits have carved out their own little niche, and accomplished a great deal within it. It's just a shame that that niche isn't something that will most likely be appreciated by very many people. I doubt Moonshine Bandits really care though, since they've already got the cult following. At this point in their careers, getting drunk and making music are their top priorities. I'm sure they can keep it up.