Mike & The Moonpies Drop Surprise Album Ahead of Pickathon Appearance
As if true country music fans didn’t have enough on their plates Friday (8-2) with Tyler Childers releasing a new record Country Squire, formidable Texas honky tonk outfit Mike and the Moonpies came out of left field with a new record of their own, completely by surprise both in its arrival, and in its approach.
Recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London with producer Adam Odor, Cheap Silver and Solid Country Gold finds the Moonpies mixing their dancehall numbers with the more delicate and refined style of country music indicative of the Countrypolitan era of the 60’s and 70’s, complete with the London Philharmonic playing behind them.
“Every time we’ve taken a step forward, it’s a result of us refusing to become stagnant,” says front man Mike Harmeier. “We left our dancehall residencies years ago because we wanted to expand our touring beyond Texas. We updated our approach with ‘Mockingbird,’ then went back to a more traditional sound—in a 1970s, Johnny Paycheck-inspired way—with ‘Steak Night at the Prairie Rose.’ 10 years into our career, we’re still finding our voice… and we’re realizing that maybe it’s not one voice, but a collection of voices.”
The 8-song album is also more of a collaborative effort compared to the band’s previous records.
“Everyone had a hand in the creation process, from start to finish,” says Harmeier, who shares co-writing credits with multiple Moonpies throughout the album. “I usually come to the table with all the songs already written, but this album is entirely different. We worked on everything together. It was the most collaborative thing we’ve ever done. It was truly the work of a band.”
Those collaborators include pedal steel player Zach Moulton, guitarist Catlin Rutherford, bassist Omar Oyoque, drummer Kyle Ponder, and keyboardist John Carbone, who hasn’t been touring with the band recently, but still remains part of the band’s extended family. Cameos on the record include Nikki Lane on the song “Miss Fortune,” Shooter Jennings on “Danger,” and Season Ammons shows up on a cover of Gary P. Nunn’s iconic Texas anthem “London Homesick Blues.” Aaron Sinclair’s “Young in Love” is also covered on the record.
Mike and the Moonpies dropped the album at midnight Eastern time late Thursday/early Friday, moments before they took the stage at the Pickathon Festival in Portland, Oregon to play a rousing set for the festival’s Galaxy Barn crowd. Mixing in a few new songs with their more raucous country music material that had Saving Country Music naming them the best live act in 2018, it primed the pump for them to take the main stage Friday afternoon to once again wow a crowd of appreciative and influential music fans.
“Thank you so much for making us feel at home in Oregon,” Mike Harmeier said to the Pickathon audience. “We felt so at home we dropped a new record on you. Tyler [Childers] has a new one out too.”
Childers is scheduled to take the stage both Friday and Saturday evening as one of Pickathon’s primary 2019 headliners.
During their main stage set, Mike and the Moonpies played their first single from the new record, “You Look Good in Neon,” and the new song “Danger,” which Mike told the crowd was inspired by his young son. Originally word had trickled down that the band would play Cheap Silver and Solid Country Gold in its entirety during their main stage set at Pickathon. But they chose to forgo that plan to put on an A1 performance for a crowd that mostly had never heard of the band before.
Pickathon is known not just entertaining crowds of music fans in the Pacific Northwest, but helping to launch careers. Sturgill Simpson and his manager directly attribute the beginning of his ascent to a set he played with his original band Sunday Valley at Pickathon in 2011. The Avett Brothers, Lake Street Dive, and other bands also cite the festival as their launching pad.
Whether Pickathon will have the same effect for Mike and the Moonpies remains to be seen, but you may want to remember the date 8/2/2019 as the time Mike and the Moonpies had their “moment.” They certainly put together the performances to justify whatever buzz they receive coming out of Pickathon. But perhaps most importantly, they might have dropped a surprise album that could eventually turn out to be their big breakout. Where better to put it all together than at the Pickathon Festival.
Saving Country Music will have a proper album review for ‘Cheap Silver and Solid Country Gold’ in the coming days, as well as more coverage from the 2019 Pickathon Music Festival.
August 2, 2019 @ 6:37 pm
I am completely jealous of everyone there.
August 2, 2019 @ 6:48 pm
It’s a great day to be alive! And a country music fan. These records kick some serious ass
August 2, 2019 @ 7:28 pm
Ok, whiplash. These tracks sound outstanding, kinda like if the guy next door cut a record at Abbey Road … and you go, wait, that really happened?
It really happened. These guys are the sleeper band of all sleeper bands. I have to wake up and get over the band next door thing. These guys are great.
August 2, 2019 @ 7:58 pm
That picture says it all. Besides being good, these guys are having fun. And it’s contagious.
August 2, 2019 @ 8:26 pm
There’s a storm coming, And it starts with this album. I’m detecting a cultural seismic shift on the horizon.
August 2, 2019 @ 8:40 pm
Mike and the Moonpies are definitely an acquired taste with their unpolished honky tonk sound, but the more I listen to this album, the more I love it. This album definitely sounds more Bakersfield than Dallas, which I like since I’m not a huge fan of Texas Country, which for the most part (definitely with exceptions) turned into shitty rock music with a fiddle
August 2, 2019 @ 8:45 pm
Damn! Now that’s a record. I was a bit whatever about these guys like not bad at all but nothing that really grabbed me but this record is fantastic.
August 2, 2019 @ 8:58 pm
This reminds me of listening to Looks Like Rain the first time.
August 2, 2019 @ 9:38 pm
“Originally word had trickled down that the band would play Cheap Silver and Solid Country Gold in its entirety during their main stage set at Pickathon. But they chose to forgo that plan to put on an A1 performance for a crowd that mostly had never heard of the band before.”
Smart move although the album is amazing and WE on here would love it Pickathon deserves the best set The Moonpies have to offer in their allotted time. Play the best you got and tear it up!!!
August 2, 2019 @ 11:02 pm
This is certainly country album of the year for me, and Cheap Silver is in the running for song of the year, period. It sounds like something that could have been on Lambchop’s Nixon album, and that’s about the highest praise you can get from me. This album is sounding like a wild leap forward for the band, I’m so happy for them and so happy to have it.
August 3, 2019 @ 4:09 pm
Agreed. I’ve listened to this album several times all the way through without skipping and its definitely my album of the year right now
August 3, 2019 @ 2:13 am
I love this band, they are so down to earth unpretentious and having fun. It’s infectious.
Their songwriting has taken a leap with this record as well.
I run a small country show in UK and they did me a great jingle for my show. These guys are the best.
August 3, 2019 @ 4:20 am
Cheap Silver is easily the best country song I’ve heard this year. First spin and the frissons were out of control. It’s perfect.
August 3, 2019 @ 7:24 am
I couldn’t echo that sentiment more emphatically if I had Trigger’s gift for prose. The chills came over me at first listen and have intensified upon every subsequent play. These boys have reached a stratospheric height with this effort. My weekend went from blue flame to white hot with this release! (Steel Woods in the Caverns tonight, Country Squire drop and now this) I’m gonna grab me a moon pie and an RC, I got some listenin’ to git after!
August 3, 2019 @ 5:38 am
Once. Again, Thanks for the heads up Trig. Love the clips I heard, and just ordered the CD, yes I’m old school, and got the package with a tee shirt for my wife, she’s a big fan of Mike and the boys!
Got to hang with them in NYC last year, and wish them the best with this new release!
Cool Lester Smooth
August 3, 2019 @ 6:56 am
They’re very talented guys…but I do feel like their oeuvre pretty much entirely consists of songs that I’d want to listen to as part of an album, rather than something I’d crank up on a random day or throw in a driving playlist.
August 3, 2019 @ 5:12 pm
Feature, not a bug.
Cool Lester Smooth
August 3, 2019 @ 5:53 pm
I respect it…but I also wish they had anything as catchy as some of John Moreland’s songs, because they clearly have the talent to make it great.
August 3, 2019 @ 6:03 pm
Road crew is “catchy.” Don’t you think?
August 4, 2019 @ 4:47 am
A lot of Mike’s songs are memorable to me. That’s different than catchy, which is from the pop world. If it helps, Harmeier is a bit like Gary Stewart. If you want the Moonpies to be more “pop”ular, you’re missing the point of cheap silver and solid country gold.
I love Steak Night, but I bought this record and the other commenters are right: this is on another level. I’m even liking Mike’s voice more. It’s like a familiar pair of jeans.
Cool Lester Smooth
August 6, 2019 @ 10:22 am
Oh, I’m consciously using “catchy” – one of my favorite aspects of “Texoma” country is the marriage of smart, specific lyrics to strong pop hooks that you’ll find with Turnpike, WCG, Randy and Wade, and Steve Earle.
I haven’t heard a bad song from them…but I’ve yet to hear anything that grabs me, either.
And that’s fine! I don’t need to “get” everything, haha.
Cool Lester Smooth
August 3, 2019 @ 6:00 pm
(Feel like Turnpike is an unreasonable standard to hold anyone to, but Evan writes songs that both way more meaningful and five times as catchy).
August 3, 2019 @ 8:05 am
New album sounds great, has a Rusty Wier vibe to it. Mike and the Moonpies are the real deal and a good group of guys.
August 3, 2019 @ 8:45 am
Their last album to me just sounded like another generic bar band. This one held my interest a lot more.
August 3, 2019 @ 9:40 am
What a great example of a band (guy) knowing not try and repeat an epic record by doing the same thing over and over.
I really dig Steak Night’s honky think kick ass nature but so thankful they did this. Can’t wait to hear what’s next from Mike and the boys.
Robert's Country Blog
August 4, 2019 @ 11:50 am
Also,Season Ammons recorded an album at Abbey Road that comes out the end of the month. She describes it as a soul record.
August 5, 2019 @ 6:00 am
Obviously these songs will not have he orchestra when being played live and that tells me that a lot of the sound live will lean heavy on the pedal steel, because that is what most closely resembles that sound. Their are times on the songs that I cannot totally tell if it is the orchestra or pedal steel making the sound, so I think that is ad thing when it comes to hearing them live.
August 5, 2019 @ 6:06 am
you don’t think they’ll go full-on “November Rain?”
August 5, 2019 @ 6:39 am
Lol! I will be very impressed if they can fit that into some of the venues the are playing. If I walk into the Mohawk this Thursday night and the Austin Symphony is set up, I will immediately post.
August 5, 2019 @ 6:42 am
Haha. It would be really cool if they did do at least one gig like that.
August 5, 2019 @ 8:14 am
This one is a shocker. Their previous records felt like music made by guys who spend a lot of time in a bar; this record feels like the bar.
Never would have imagined they’d put out anything that rivals a Tyler Childers album for me, but here it is.