As a genre, Americana has become a massive umbrella, and yet, the actual definition remains elusive at best. Still, for those that relate to its former manifestation as "roots rock" or "country crossover," the Vandoliers come remarkably close to identifying with a definitive sound.
As a result, "Forever" finds them parlaying a series of insurgent anthems into an album that's flush with dedicated defiance and rebellious rockers, all ringing with unabashed frenzy and fury. It's easily apparent from the outset that this Texas troupe is out to make a big noise, and on entries like "Miles and Miles," "Nowhere Fast" and "Sixteen Years," they clearly succeed. They rarely come up for air, and it's only on the final entry, "Tumbleweed," that they opt for a any real respite. That makes for an exhilarating experience throughout, and if one's looking for a ready comparison, the rampant revelry of Celtic rock bands like The Pogues or the Young Dubliners would seem to come closest.
If that similarity in sound seems strange, consider the Vandoliers' early diffuse origins. Their template was established with the various punk and metal outfits the various members were first associated with, and when they each broke away and joined forces, the sound they created in their new band was tagged as "Ameri-kinda" early on. Still, whatever they lack in subtlety, they more than make up for in confidence and clarity. Three albums on, they've established a solid presence and a sonic sweep that's well in keeping with those rowdy refrains. As the album title suggests, that emphatic impression ought to linger long after those final notes fade away.
Ultimately, it's that resounding resilience that puts its stamp on the sound. Credit Vandoliers with truth in advertising, because in the end, "Forever" truly creates an indelible impression.
Lee Zimmerman is a freelance writer and author based in Maryville, Tenn. He also expounds on music on his web site, Stories Beyond the Music - Americana Music Reviews, Interviews & Articles. His new book - Americana Music - Voices, Visionaries and Pioneers of an Honest Sound - is available from Texas A&M University Publishing.