"Jackpot" may be the most appropriately titled album of the year. It may also stand up as the best country album of 1996. The band that first came to some national attention on last year's superb "Austin Country Nights" compilation proves more than up to the task of sustaining high quality for a full album. The 12 original songs, written in various combinations by the three band members, superbly evoke the vintage Bakersfield honky-tonk sound. It's the same territory mined by fellow Austinite Dale Watson, but Watson's fine disc pales in comparison to "Jackpot," mainly because of The Derailers' better songwriting. Tony Villanueva, the band's primary vocalist, is also a bit better at conveying redneck angst. It's hard to pick standout tracks on an album of this quality, but certainly the title track and opener "My Heart's Ready" qualify as diamonds amongst gems. Among the songs penned by guitarist Brian Hofeldt, "Lies, Lies, Lies" may be the best.
Visually, The Derailers seem to be engaged in '50's greaser/rockabilly imagery which belies both the style and quality of their music. It's not quite winning the lottery or breaking the bank at Vegas, but for the country music fan "Jackpot" is a close second.