If you’re looking for something new and fresh in the Texas scene, I invite you to get acquainted with Mike and the Moonpies and their latest record, Steak Night at the Prairie Rose. This is not going to blow you away with especially well-crafted lyrics or wow you with some groundbreaking sound; rather, it’s just a solid collection of fun, upbeat country tunes. But sometimes, that’s all you really need. It can make writing a review difficult because there isn’t much to say, but it makes the listening easy, and even welcome after digesting some deeper albums.
You’ll find a couple moments of greater depth on this album, however. The title track and album highlight is a great little narrative and ode to his father, centered around a place called The Prairie Rose where they shared drinks and listened to bands while he was growing up. Pick this one if you only single out one track from the record. “Beaches of Biloxi” straddles the line between light and serious as it details the unfortunate loss of all the narrator’s money at a casino in Mississippi. It’s delivered in a somewhat offhanded way, but a closer look at the lyrics reveals that he’s losing his savings and quite probably his wife due to the gambling. This one is another standout. “The Last Time” and “The Worst Thing,” though neither are really album standouts, also dig for something more serious on this otherwise lighthearted affair.
But it’s the fun songs that really bring out the personality on this album and from this band. We’ve got an opener here solely about some guy on their road crew, complete with plenty of great traditional instrumentation. Actually, I’ll go ahead and insert that the lively, most definitely country instrumentation throughout this record is one of its greatest strengths and makes for an engaging, energetic listen. I’ll give Mike and the Moonpies this: after a 2017 filled with many mid-tempo, boring Americana affairs, they’ve started off 2018 right with the vibrancy and spirit on this album. The organ seems to be a favorite instrument of this group, and I’m not sure I’ve heard anyone else utilize it quite as much in recent memory. The closer, “We’re Gone,” sees the band on the road again, traveling from town to town and spending all their money as soon as they make it at each show. There’s the almost ridiculous “Might be Wrong,” a song which would have come off as a completely self-absorbed moment of arrogance had the narrator not hit on this girl outrageously throughout the verses and then declared in the chorus that perhaps he’s spectacularly wrong, and maybe she doesn’t want him after all. There’s “Things Ain’t Like They Used to Be,” taking a message that certainly can relate to a lot of people and adding specificity and humor. And you can’t help but smile at “Getting High at Home”–the title here should be self-explanatory.
There honestly isn’t much else to say about this record. This will be my shortest album review to date, but it’s an album that isn’t conducive to extensive analysis and critical thought. Fans of traditional Texas country, or Texas country that blends in a little rock, you’ll enjoy this. It may not blow you away, but it’s just a solid, upbeat record that proves you don’t have to be serious or deep or thought-provoking all the time in the independent scenes while simultaneously making a case that you can make fun music with smarter lyrics than much of the stuff released in the mainstream. More can be gleaned about this project from listening to it than from reading my words. So go listen, it’s definitely an album worth checking out.
Fun little record, a nice breath of fresh air that should put a smile on your face.