Firing on all cylinders and ready to give anything that gets in its path a swift kick in the rear, “Cancun,” the new single from Russ Still and the Moonshiners, doesn’t wade through a long, surreal introduction before laying into us with everything its performers can muster. Here, Russ Still and the Moonshiners are determined to burn through as many grooves as they can inside of a three and half minute country-rock juggernaut, and though this is far from the only track in the genre that you need to be listening to this summer, it’s absolutely one of the more intriguing to come from an independent source. “Cancun” is indie country done right, and for enthusiasts like myself, it’s a refreshing listen any day of the week.
The percussion isn’t the loudest element here at any point of the song, and yet there’s not enough I can say about what it does for the overall sway of the music. The beat shapes the entire identity of “Cancun,” and while there’s a lot of texture in the melodic points the guitar, keys, bass and vocal add into this melting pot of musicality, it wouldn’t be nearly as accessible to us were the drums not given as much room to breathe. I don’t know for certain, but my gut tells me that Russ Still and the Moonshiners wanted this latest release to be one of their most groove-laden numbers, and they invested as much energy as they could in making it just that.
From a lyrical perspective, there’s a dustiness to the tone of the narrative here that reminds me more of singer/songwriters like Tom Waits, Warren Zevon, Mark Lanegan and even Paul Mark and the Van Dorens than it did anyone in the country-rock genre. When melded together with the melodic underpinning in the instrumentation, this mixture of plainspoken Americana and whiskey-soaked poeticisms is something that you’re not going to hear from any other source this summer – if in 2020 at all. Russ Still and the Moonshiners might be a country band, but in this most recent release, they’re flexing more muscle as a group of experimentalists than they are anything else. That might bother some critics, but in my book, it makes them as versatile a band as any of us could ask for at the moment.
Russ Still and the Moonshiners, Category: Artist, Albums: BOOTLEG (Batch 432), Still Cookin, Singles: She Can’t Kiss (Pop Version), She Can’t Kiss (Rock), Bad Stretch of Road, Livin’ on a Prayer, Top Tracks: House Is Burnin’, She Can’t Kiss – Pop Version, 99 Percent, Bad Stretch of Road, No Stars, Biography: “Blending influences of country twang, southern rock n' roll, and Americana folk, Russ Still & The Moonshiners creates a sound all their own”., Monthly Listeners: 101, Where People Listen: Alpharetta, Malmo, Istanbul, Nashville, Atlanta
“Cancun” concludes in as big a whirlwind as it gets rolling with, but even for being a single of moderate length – three minutes and seventeen seconds exactly – it doesn’t feel like it’s lacking in any substance at all. Russ Still and the Moonshiners execute a surprisingly robust offering for anyone who loves country or old fashioned rock n’ roll rhythm in their latest single, and although they’ve made plenty of magic in the studio together before, this feels like a bit of a turning point for their sound. 2020 is the start of a new chapter for many artists in the business, and judging from the ambitiousness of “Cancun,” this can be said of Russ Still and the Moonshiners as well.