Essential Listening: Defiantly Independent Country Band, The Mavericks! Fine Providers of Music For All Occasions!
The last couple entries have been rock n’ roll bands, so today we are going to go a little country. Although, to be fair, it would be a tad disingenuous to call the Mavericks purely a country band. They are one of those 1 in a million bands that started out definitively as one thing, and then reemerged on the other end as something else (and frankly far better) altogether. I find transformations like their’s to be utterly fascinating. Part of this month is all about showing some love to content creators that I feel are putting out some high quality work, but another part of it is examining why the work that they put out is so high quality in the first place! For more info on how I’ll be blogging this month, click here. If any band deserves a signal boost, it’s without a doubt the talented men that make up the eclectically awesome band: the Mavericks.
Who are the Mavericks: The Mavericks started off simply enough as a country band when they formed up in 1989. With the original line up of Raul Malo (vocals, guitar), Paul Deakin (drums), Eddie Perez (guitar), Ben Peeler (guitar), and Robert Reynolds (bass). Performing neotraditional country music through their first few albums, the Mavericks quickly amassed a string of hit music on the country charts. Along the way, a few members got added as the band’s formation solidified in 1994 (Peeler left at this point) with the addition of Jerry Dale McFadden on keys and Nick Kale on guitar, so too did the band’s sound. Instead of sticking to a straight up neotraditional country approach, the band started to branch out into latin, rockabilly, jazz, blues, and pop sounds. This culminated into the 1995 album, “Music for All Occasions”, which earned them a Grammy for Best Country Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal. Their experimental growth continued on into the even more diverse album “Trampoline” from 1998, which added gospel, big brass arrangements, psychedelic 60’s pop, and even lounge style music to their bag of musical tricks. Since then, the Mavericks have taken to utilizing many different sounds for their various recordings and have successfully merged them all into the unique sound that is definitively theirs alone.
Why You Should Be Listening: Clearly, if I’m writing about the Mavericks, then they record some damn fine music, and that should be reason alone to lend them your ears. Should that not be enough, there are a multitude of reasons that you should give these guys a shot. First, you are getting the whole musical gamut when you take a look at their entire catalog. Although based on country music roots, the mavericks have fused so many other styles to their brand of music, that each song can morph into something new and exciting, especially any of their albums from “Trampoline” all the way through to their most recent album “Mono”. Second, Raul Malo has a buttery smooth voice that is reminiscent of the late Roy Orbison. He commands his voice effectively, to the point that subtle variations are easily distinguished as he changes his delivery to suit the mood or emotional impact needed for the song he is currently singing. From pop to country to smooth crooning, Malo can do it all exceptionally well. Finally, If the Grammy that the Mavericks won in 1996 wasn’t enough, the band just picked up a prestigious Best Duo or Group of the Year in 2015 from the Americana Music Association. Bottom Line: the Mavericks are still at the top of their game. As an added bonus, I have littered this post with multiple live performances, because the Mavericks kick serious ass in concert. Definitely check them out if they come to a venue near you!
What’ve the Mavericks Been Up To Lately: In 2013, after a decade’s long break from recording, the Mavericks released the album, “In Time”. Rarely does a band take such a significant break from recording, and then come back as if they hadn’t missed a beat, but that’s exactly what the Mavericks did. “In Time” feels right, like your favorite pair of jeans or a cold drink (of your preference) after a hard day’s work. Malo’s vocal work is as sharp as ever, the band sounds terrific, and they were still exploring new sounds and layering their tracks with an accordion, brass arrangements, and creative percussion. Country, rockabilly, ballads, the blues and more are covered in this delightful full length LP.
In 2015 the Mavericks released their most recent album, “Mono”. Continuing the trend of creative growth, “Mono” starts off with “All Night Long”, which comes across as a song from a Santana album, slides into the ska beat of “Summertime (When I’m With You)”, and then moves directly into the hard luck ballad of “Pardon Me”. Again, it is a constant barrage of music styles changing from track to track that makes each listen rewarding. I highly recommend picking up both “In Time” and “Mono”, as you are not likely to find a band that is currently recording that is better than the Mavericks.
For the purposes of contrast from their past to their present, here’s a blast from the Mavericks from way back in 1993:
How You Can Support The Band: Buy their albums! The entire Mavericks catalog is available on CD and digital at various retailers, both brick and mortar and online. You can also listen to their music via Spotify and Apple Music. On top of that, you can head to their official website, themavericksband.com, for more information about their music, news, bios, merchandise, music videos, and more. The Mavericks are working on recording a new album right now, and they are on tour as well. You can check out more info about locations and dates here. The Mavericks can also be followed on these social media outlets: Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.
Finally, I leave you with the official music video for the Mavericks song “The Only Question Is”, because we all deserve to see a band backed up by a saxophone playing squad of lovely roller derby ladies before we die: