Album Review – Silverada (Self-Titled)


510.2 and 560 (Honky Tonk and Country Rock) on the Country DDS

Mike and the Moonpies? Silverada? The only names you really need to know are Mike Harmeier, Omar Oyoque, Catlin Rutherford, Zachary Moulton, and Taylor Englert. If they’re involved, it’s probably tits. And they’re involved in Silverada’s new self-titled album, so be assured and excited. Everything else is just noise.

Is the new album indicative of the sound and approach that made you fall in love with the old Mike and the Moonpies? Yes it is. Is it country? Of course. Is it of the superior and righteous quality of the band’s previous albums that had you swearing to all your buddies this was the best frikin’ band on the planet and it was stupid they weren’t selling out arenas? Absolutely.

But just like all the Silverada albums before it, there are new wrinkles and fresh approaches to keep everything interesting for themselves and the audience. This means a little bit more of a rock approach to some songs, though not all of them. This also means some more adventurousness and ambience. But don’t mistake all of this as being at the sacrifice of the country aspects of the Silverada sound. For the most part, it’s complimentary and enhancing to them.

If you can’t hear the pure Texas country aspect of the song “Stubborn Son,” then perhaps you’ve got a penis stuck in your ear. “Stay By My Side” is Mike Harmeier doing his best 1970s Willie Nelson impression. Some of the early singles like “Wallflower” gave off the false impression that the name change was synonymous with a significant sonic departure. But even that song has some excellent steel guitar flourishes from Zachary Moulton, making it more country than anything else.

Another early single and the opening song “Radio Wave” is a bit more out there, but this is Harmeier doing what all artists must do at least to some extent to grow, which is to challenge themselves, and push the boundaries of their original parameters while still remaining tethered to their authentic selves. This is what “Radio Wave” is all about. And yes, “Americana is a myth” as they say in the song, if you’re a country band like Silverada.

This band already made the perfect honky tonk country album in 2021’s One To Grow On, so there’s no need to try and make it again. Instead, revel in another challenge. The song “Eagle Rare” is also a little out there with its Springsteen-esque beat, and rock opera interlude. But the lyrics are all Mike and the Moonpies … excuse me, Silverada. One place where the writing really shines through is the song “Doing It Right.” It plays off the country music cheating song cliché perfectly, but with its own unique twist, which has always been at the heart of Silverada’s appeal.


You do wish there was a little more of Zachary Moulton’s steel guitar on some of these songs. With the greater emphasis on ambience, this puts him on the sidelines on a few tracks, or contributing ethereal tones as opposed to the spell binding solos he’s capable of. At the same time, this album makes you appreciate lead guitarist Catlin Rutherford that much more. Never the ball hog like a lead guitarist can be, he really brings out the best in some of these songs, and takes them where Mike and producer Adam Odor want them to go.

The album also does expand further away from the band’s original Austin honky tonk sound more than any album before, and it might strive for perfection but fall just short of attaining it from a couple of sleepier songs. But those quick to cut ties with Silverada because of the name change or preconceived notions about this album need to get straight. Silverada kicks just like Mike and the Moonpies did.

The name was never the issue holding this band back. It was good old-fashioned American bullshit that sells you on the idea of meritocracy, while invariably elevating mediocrity at every turn, especially in entertainment. If there was any justice, Silverada would be selling out arenas right now. Because no matter what you think of the name or even the new album, this is still the greatest live country band on the planet. Even if you don’t like the name, you’ve got to appreciate the guts it takes to play a wild card like this.

As Mike Harmeier said on X a while back:

We aren’t trying to change our sound, or ‘go mainstream’, or sell out. We’re just 5 grown ass men who didn’t want to be called Moonpies anymore. The name stopped feeling like it reflected the music and the vibe years ago and we finally just said fuck it, let’s choose a name we all like and just do it. People may not like it, but at the end of the road it’ll be our obituary and we wanted something different for our story at this moment in our lives. People can say what they want, & we and our families have seen all the comments, but we’re reinvigorated by this, we’ve got plenty more killer country music up our sleeves, and we will continue to answer to no one and keep kicking ass.

If Mike and the Moonpies had come out yesterday, maybe they would be riding the wave of young hot bands out there shattering glass ceilings and resetting expectations for independent artists. You hear some of Mike’s frustrations on the song “Load Out” from this album. But they didn’t explode like they should have. So you roll the dice with a new name and see if it works out.

Ultimately it doesn’t matter what you call them. Silverada—the band and the album—is great music. And whether they’re properly recognized in their time or otherwise, they have put together an important catalog of American country music that will withstand name changes, stylistic shifts in popular culture, and rigorous the test of time.

8.4/10

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