Derailers: Here Come the Derailers

Record Review

Phases and Stages

Derailers

Here Come the Derailers (Lucky Dog)

Fans of Austin's Derailers might approach their fifth full-length with some trepidation. It's their first with Lucky Dog, Sony's Nashville imprint, which Charlie Robison and Jack Ingram also call home, and the first time they've recorded without Dave Alvin in the producer's seat. Well, put your fears aside. It's true that producer Kyle Lehning, who's worked with Randy Travis, George Jones, Marie Osmond, and Kenny Rogers, among others, has sanded some of the rough edges off the local country quartet's sound; this album doesn't jump out of the speakers like, say, Jackpot did. Repeated listenings, however, reveal the same old Derailers, mixing country and rock with a flair that very few bands are capable of these days. The harmonies are still terrific, the instrumental prowess is as solid as ever, and the songs are brimming with wit and spunk, presented with a respectful eye toward the country tradition while adding the group's own special Texas twist. One obvious difference this time is the reliance on outside songwriters. Then again, few would argue with the credentials of veteran songwriters like Jim Lauderdale, Kostas, and Melba Montgomery to write a country song, and those choices fit nicely with the tunes written by the Derailers main men, Tony Villanueva and Brian Hofeldt. Covering the funky "Mohair Sam," popularized by Charlie Rich, as well as Arthur Alexander's "If It's Really Got to Be That Way" with heart and soul, demonstrates the Derailers' willingness to take chances, and both fit the band's wily style. Some might argue that this updated sound was designed to get radio play, but they've done it in such a way to retain all that was right with the band, and as such, Here Come the Derailers is a no-holds-barred success. (The Derailers CD release party is Friday, Oct. 26, at La Zona Rosa.)

****   

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

The Derailers, Tony Villanueva

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