For those looking for something a little more offbeat in nature, count yourself lucky if the debut album from The Droptines lands in your lap. This is a genuine alt-country work, meaning that it’s an amalgamation of country, rock, blues, and folk influences. It’s more indicative of the late 90s or early 2000s when alt-country was hitting its stride before it got folded into “Americana,” and the music lost much of its guts.
This self-titled album is an exploration into impulse control and the facing of moral conundrums, and often failing to fall on the right side of these decisions. Sex, drugs, and booze are regularly referenced in these songs as the protagonist pinballs between loose relationships, lapses from sobriety, and regular bouts of self-loathing. The watery effect on the vocals adds to the murky vibe this music emotes.
Sometimes using suggestive or outright brash language when dealing with members of the opposite sex, The Droptines are either refreshingly honest or unblushingly ribald depending on your sensibilities, starting with the opening line of the opening song.
In the midst of this inebriated and directionless beatnik-like itinerary of a lost soul’s activity, glimmers of poetic brilliance emerge. Though some of the songs fail to convey enough specificity to allow the audience to either identify or find sympathy with the character or the story, others do this very thing in a rather gripping manner.
When you realize that “Hyna” is about a cross border love affair, it immediately becomes much more intriguing. “Army Green” gets you with the contrast it paints between an enlisted man and a lover back home, even if the war references make for low hanging lyrical fruit. The revenge of “Raining Where You Are” is palpable and real, while “Shape of My Name” is where the poeticism perhaps hits its peak.
To know her intention, is hell heard out loud
She wrote Revelations, I’m living it now
A trailer park Pagan, that profits off pain
She lies as she loves, in crossing out names.
The album’s most played track called “Bill of Sale” takes on sort of a Johnny Cash vibe with a Western flair to it. “Things I Ain’t Got” is a strait up honky tonk tune at its heart, if not in its instrumentation. But most of the songs of The Droptines have a rock approach, even if some country banjo or a mandolin comes in, sometimes randomly, but never unwelcomed. This is one of those bands that you can’t fuss over genre about too much, because it will only frustrate you, and is missing the point.
The Droptines come from the mind of singer, songwriter, and front man Conner Arthur who founded the band in 2019. Conner originally comes from Concan, Texas where drunk coeds, tourists, and Boy Scout troops head to tube the Frio River out in the Texas Hill Country. The name is derived from the downward-facing points on a buck’s rack, so it’s pronounced like the “tines” of a fork, not “teens” when when you were socially awkward and had a face full of acne.
With Conner Arthur’s uninhibited lyricism, the band has found favor with some of their musical peers in Texas and other important tastemakers, opening the door to them in some of Texas music’s most important institutions, even if “Texas music” isn’t necessarily the most apt description of their sound. The Droptines played the legendary Music Fest in Steamboat Springs, CO earlier this year, and 95.9 The Ranch out of Fort Worth is currently playing their music. They’re also booked for the Jackalope Jamboree in Oregon this summer.
Meanwhile, this self-titled album is creating a major buzz in the circles that seek out elevated songwriting and raw emotion from the starkness of the expressions and the contrast they draw in these often reserved times. As musical mutts it will be interesting to see where The Droptines land. But for now they’re finding favor with fans who seek out music that sounds and feels real no matter the categorization behind it.
The Droptines also include Dillon Sampson on bass, Tyler Quade on lead guitar, and Colt Wrangler on drums.