This New Mike and the Moonpies Album Should Be Big
Was just thinking about this while updating the Saving Country Music Top 25 Playlist, and putting the new Mike and the Moonpies song “Paycheck to Paycheck” in the top spot: Why is this band not blowing up more? Not to belittle what they’ve accomplished as the once spirited, but decidedly local Austin honky tonk band that took it national with their 2015 record Mockingbird, and has subsequently hit the afterburners and become a band many consider to be the best live act in country at the moment, with albums that either win or at least compete for the best releases of a given year.
But it still feels like there is a significant disconnect between how big this band is, and how big it should be. When Saving Country Music first started some 14 years ago, we were used to this diagnosis for our favorite artists and bands. How in the world could Hank Williams III, .357 String Band, and Rachel Brooke not be bigger? But over the years, we’ve seen this paradigm shift: Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell, Cody Jinks, Tyler Childers, the Turnpike Troubadours, and other have legitimately blown up to compete with the mainstream, with artists like Colter Wall and Charley Crockett coming up right behind them.
Part of the reason a similar fate hasn’t befallen Mike and the Moonpies is because they aren’t looking for the big deal, or to rocket up some hierarchy of musical success. That’s what makes them so cool.
Late on the 4th of July, as many revelers here in the United States were policing up the beer bottles and husks of spent fireworks from their back yards, and either dreading having to slunk into work the next day, or thanking God they don’t have to, Mike and the Moonpies announced they’ll be releasing their latest album called One To Grow On on August 10th. The announcement was accompanied by a quote, “All that remains of a memory now lives forever in a song,” and the pronouncement from the band, “It’s an album to make new memories to and to bring back the old ones.”
That’s really a good way to describe the magic of Mike and the Moonpies. When you go to a Mike and the Moonpies show, you remember it forever like it was yesterday. With the way they work with nostalgia and revitalize classic country music themes in new and original ways, their music finds that nexus of forging new memories while revitalizing old ones.
The chemistry of this band is just so perfect, not just unto itself, but for this very time and place. They’re classic, but cool. As a frontman, Mike Harmeier could be regarded as a pipsqueak. But when he walks out on stage, he might as well be 10 foot tall. He’s got a confidence and cool factor you just can’t fabricate. Steel guitar player Zach Moulton is the the best in the business at the moment. So is bass player Omar Oyoque, who in any other band would be an annoyance or a distraction. Normally you don’t want to notice the bass player in a band. But with this one, Omar is the man that brings the party.
Guitarist Catlin Rutherford is completely underrated. In a band with so much else going on, he knows when to melt back and hold the rhythm, and when to step out and steal the show. And drummer Kyle Ponder has the responsibility of holding it all together, and instills the pep in this band that makes them so appealing. Similar to how many regard the Turnpike Troubadours, Mike and the Moonpies are a supergroup all unto themselves.
That’s the reason they aren’t about to compromise anything they do just for a quick step up the ladder. The chemistry is too good at the moment to mess with this, and that’s why they’re keeping everything in house, and independent. But at the same time, the world needs Mike and the Moonpies. So it’s up to us as independent music fans to make sure they get seen and heard in a way that is proportionate to their passion, skill, and appeal.
Hopefully the new album One To Grow On is just that—the moment Mike and the Moonpies blossom to the next level. The early indications are all promising. But either way, those that know Mike and the Moonpies know this new album immediately rockets to the top as one of the most anticipated releases all year.
One To Grow On is now available for pre-order.
1. Paycheck to Paycheck
2. Hour on the Hour
3. Growing Pains
4. Rainy Day
5. Whose Side You’re On
7. The Vein
8. Social Drinkers
9. Burn Out
July 5, 2021 @ 10:38 am
Just a slight nitpick. 9 tracks? C’mon gang. Cheap Silver and Solid Country Gold was a masterpiece, but also on the shorter side. Look, I know that coming up with new, all original songs that are up to par can be a challenge for any band at times, I get it. But, why not throw a couple fun covers in to flesh things out? Work with us Mike and Co. We are here for you. Bring it! That said, looking with eager anticipation to the new one.
July 5, 2021 @ 12:02 pm
I disagree. Give me 9 killer songs and leave me wanting more. Sometimes 14 track albums are too much especially if the quality isn’t there. They tend to be a drag.
I wouldn’t mind a covers albumen tho.
July 5, 2021 @ 2:49 pm
Plus, they’re not keeping us waiting 2 years between albums. Which is nice, in itself. And those multi year projects can sprawl, suffering from mission creep and feel disjointed.
July 5, 2021 @ 9:10 pm
I’d prefer more tracks too, but an album a year these past four years ain’t bad. Only Charley Crockett has them beat in terms of album output.
July 5, 2021 @ 10:45 am
July 5, 2021 @ 10:49 am
This is the best band in the world right now, and by far my favorite. They replaced the hole left by Turnpike, for me.
Every record they release is an instant pre-order of the deluxe edition vinyl.
This will never be on the radio. It’s too good. Selfishly, this is great because I can go to a show for $15 and stand 5 ft away from the best live band in the world.
July 5, 2021 @ 11:15 am
Looking forward to this one. Like you said, you always remember seeing them like it was yesterday, I can vouch for that. Saw them late December 2019 at the Coupland Inn and I still remember that show better than any. Great band!
July 5, 2021 @ 1:20 pm
And the great thing is that Omar is also a great steel player as well as Bass. Agreed on Zach, he is a steel guitar monster.
By not selling out they are assuring that they will not be a flash in the pan. Keep making great records, maybe underappreciated by the masses, but over time it will mature like fine wine!
Viva Mike and the Moonpies!
July 5, 2021 @ 3:57 pm
Trigger – it took some time, but you finally got me hooked on these guys. Really looking forward to this one.
July 5, 2021 @ 4:07 pm
My kids sing along to these guys. They know all the words to “Road Crew” and half the songs on Cheap Silver. They are threading the generational needle like Tyler Childers.
Thom's Country Bunker
July 5, 2021 @ 4:44 pm
Got my order in. Anyone who don’t like the Moonpies I just can’t fathom. It’s like disliking The Mavericks or Madness or something – it feels more like a stance than a real opinion. Like dudes who say they don’t like ice cream
July 5, 2021 @ 5:04 pm
Yes, yes, yes!
Best band! Nobody compares! Can we get a Hayes Carll album now!?
July 6, 2021 @ 3:31 pm
He keeps talking about one coming out soonish.
July 9, 2021 @ 9:11 am
Just got a Patreon update from Hayes Carll, figured I’d come back to this. It says the new album will be out October 29th.
mouths of babes
July 5, 2021 @ 5:41 pm
I love Mike and the Moonpies and all, but why is that pre-order vinyl higher than a cat’s ass?
$40 for a limited red, signed by the band I kind of understand, but $30 for the regular black vinyl? It’s not a double record. That’s crazy prices.
July 5, 2021 @ 7:19 pm
That’s how bands like this make money. If you support them, don’t be cheap and spend the extra 10 bucks. They’re awesome and they have to make a living. Vinyl is actually very expensive to produce, and more so nowadays, I would assume.
July 5, 2021 @ 9:28 pm
Agreed about supporting the band, but vinyl production is a mess these days. The number of places that master and produce vinyl is limited (though growing apparently), and the major labels have been monopolizing production for years making it tough for indies to produce and distribute their stuff in a reasonable amount of time. Lots of bottlenecks and delays.
Personally, I think the vinyl trend this past decade is a bubble. I feel like most people just collect ‘em to put on a shelf and never play, and as a former owner of a massive vinyl collection I think people will realize eventually that the format is expensive and inconvenient to play, store, and move (vinyl’s heavy).
As a former physical media diehard, these days I just want to buy lossless audio files. I won’t knock folks that want to support by buying expensive vinyl, but I’d personally prefer to support the band by attending shows and buying other merch (I buy a t-shirt and beer koozie at every show I attend).
mouths of babes
July 5, 2021 @ 10:46 pm
A vinyl record costs average $12 each to the artist (or whoever is manufacturing) when they are done in low runs. The artist usually sells them for roughly $20. I know this is true bc I have bought vinyl from John Moreland, Colter Wall, Joshua Ray Walker, Justin Wells, Arlo McKinley and more recently. I also buy tons of merch. I’m a sucker for patches and pins. After awhile you get a feel for the average price that things cost. Joshua Ray Walker ‘glad you made it’ had a black vinyl for $20 and a limited run colored, signed vinyl for $30. Is Mike and the moonpies $10 more across the board bc they are a band? Or do they know that their diehard STANS will pay it so they gouge the prices and make the limited edition vinyl separate from the bundle so you drop over a hundred on both? Personally, I hate pre-orders when the band has only released 1 song bc I’m having to bet that I’m gonna love the album when I buy it.
I’ll stop complaining, but it just bothers me when I see a pre-order that is 25%-33% over the usual going prices. It’s like, hey loyal super fans, screw you very much, suckers! That said, still love the moonpies and can’t wait for this album.
As far the current vinyl trend being a bubble, the above comment very well could be right and I agree that artists are manufacturing scarcity with tons of low run variants and collectors are sitting on these and driving up prices….but I still love vinyl. And I love colored vinyl when it’s done tastefully in respect to the album.
Collecting and playing vinyl is like having a home espresso maker. Yeah, it’s the most labor intensive and complicated way to consume coffee, but it’s also a ritual to focus and relax yourself. Same thing with vinyl- unpacking the record, admiring the artwork, the vinyl itself, dropping it in the table, cleaning it, watching the spin, contemplating the science behind it. I’m not even getting into the pre-amp, amplifiers and speaker part of vinyl listening.
July 6, 2021 @ 6:41 am
Agree with you on the audio quality aspect, and general appreciation of vinyl. I’ve find myself going deeper and deeper down the vinyl/audiophile rabbit hole and it is surprisingly a ton of fun!
Where we are off is the $20 per record…. That is definitely the exception rather than the rule. You may have found a few quality $20 purchases but generally those are from mainstream artists/groups that can seriously mass produce. I’d say $30 is far more common for the type of artist most of the savingcountrymusic.com following is interested in. Add $10 more for a deluxe signed and number by the band vinyl and I’m all in.
Let’s support these guys so they don’t have to go mainstream!
July 8, 2021 @ 9:37 am
Since the “superior” audio quality of vinyl always seems to get mentioned in these kinds of discussions, I can’t resist chiming in and saying that that claim is dubious at best – and highly attributable to a placebo effect on the part of the listener.
The the frequency range attainable from vinyl is highly limited compared to digital (CD or lossless files) and the overall audio quality is highly dependent on countless elements along the chain of mastering, production/manufacturing, and playback, not to mention vinyl deteriorates every single time you pass the needle over the grooves. There are countless threads across the web w/ buyers of new vinyl complaining about pressing problems (poor mastering, warping, bad materials, damaged materials) contributing to unacceptable audio quality etc. CD and digital don’t suffer those same problems.
But whatever, it’s fine. Different strokes for different folks.
July 6, 2021 @ 7:58 am
It’s funny as one of the older guys on here (a very young 60) to watch the whole “vinyl thing” come back and be relevant. As an 18 yr. old I started working at WEA (Warner Elektra Atlantic) records and to me just being in a warehouse on a daily basis with hundreds of thousands of albums, 8-Tracks, and cassettes was the coolest thing I could’ve of ever imagined. In those days the album COVER was so important because of it’s size. My favorite album/covers were up on my bedroom wall like posters. Back then an album list for $7.99 we got an employee discount for $2.30. There was always something magical about holding an album and reading every little line of info while listening to it the first time.
These days I own no vinyl except for Ben Jarrells’ Troubled Times that he sent me that sits on the wall in my office above the hand written Black Helicopter lyrics both of which I cherish. It’s not as easy to make vinyl these days as it was back then. I don’t listen to music that way anyway. I have lossless files on my iPod and in my Jeep of everything. I buy all Moonpie CD’s to support them and to an old fuck like me the album cover still matters. I can get the files for free but I want the CD on my shelf and I want them to have my money.
mouths of babes
July 6, 2021 @ 12:40 pm
Ok, I’ll eat crow. I did a little digging and Mike and Moonpies were self-releasing and then started Prairie Rose Music with the Cheap Silver release. So they have staff, are fronting their own money and doing their own distro, so the $30 and $40 are justified.
Also, I think I was unfairly comparing underground country vinyl to underground metal vinyl. Bands in the metal sub genres aren’t really designed to be full time income generators. The members usually have careers outside of music and the bands are more their ‘art’ than way of earning a living. Whereas country is all about the time consuming live show and dudes’ gotta eat.
Anyway, great talking vinyl with you all!
July 6, 2021 @ 1:26 pm
I could be wrong but I get the impression their only label “staff” are Mike, his wife, and producer Adam Odor. I think Mike’s wife handles all the album artwork and merch (including sales and shipping) and they have a very young kid to boot. Literal mom n’ pop operation. All the more reason to support these guys with your spare dollars. I happily joined their Patreon last year.
Underground metal fan here too and both scenes are similar in spirit. Very DIY, lots of grinding on the road. I’m always proud to support the artists I enjoy.
July 5, 2021 @ 9:49 pm
The Moonpies feel like perpetual underdogs to me. It’s cool to follow a band you can witness at arms length at a show and even talk to it’s members afterward, but I can’t help but think they deserve a bigger platform. I can’t even imagine how they’d go about doing that without signing to a bigger label or agency or something.
Also, their lighthearted style and image doesn’t seem to demand the same obsessive devotion as guys like Jinks, Childers, and Simpson. Artists like that seem to inspire an odd cult following, based on people’s perception of them as badass country music rebel messiahs. There’s something oddly confrontational and tribal about those artists and their fanbases (the whole “fuck Nashville” and “this is REAL country music” schtick).
The Moonpies are just laid back, uncontroversial, fun dudes playing laid back, uncontroversial, fun country music. For a lot of people that’s probably not enough. I dunno, but I can say this band is cool AF and this album announcement made my week for sure. Cannot wait. I love these guys and can’t wait to see ‘em live again on the east coast.
July 6, 2021 @ 6:54 am
I was going to mention something like this, plus the fact that Mike and the Moonpies have less crossover “roots,” “Americana,” and “rock” appeal. They are consistently more twangy than all those artists, especially Sturgill.
July 6, 2021 @ 8:13 am
Good comment. Mike & Moonpies do not need to make a “statement”. They are the statement.
July 6, 2021 @ 8:17 am
Absolutely Jake and Tex. This is a band with a solid identity. Honky- Tonk and a bit of Countrypolitan. Not even trying to appeal to Americana. Not overtly i tellectual, not preachy, not cosmic, just focused on making great sounds that recall better eras of Country music. Perfect for all occasions, whether it be two- stepping all over a dance floor, swigging down a cold one or background to a road trip. And, they are really good at what they do. A band for us common working class folk.
July 6, 2021 @ 12:57 am
I really enjoyed the tune…this is real rock ‘n roll.
July 6, 2021 @ 1:03 pm
Is the preorder only on iTunes? The album isn’t anywhere on Amazon music and the new song isn’t on YouTube either
July 6, 2021 @ 2:16 pm
Will be interesting to see if there is any piano on the album. Would their pianist who left still record with them?
July 6, 2021 @ 2:24 pm
John Carbone I believe is still considered an auxiliary member of the band, and they’re all still on good terms. He left because his wife needed to finish school somewhere in the Northeast, but he still appears with them occasionally, and I believe the door is open if he ever wanted to return.
July 7, 2021 @ 9:20 am
Great players, chemistry and songs! It cannot be denied!
Not a whiff of inauthenticity. One of the best bands we’ve got these days.
July 7, 2021 @ 9:28 pm
Mike and the Moonpies is country lounge music. I mean that with the highest amount of respect. That’s how I hear their unique sound and I’m loving everything they release.