“There might have been loud music / Lots of alcohol / I think it was that tequila shot that started it all” sings Russ Still through a foggy hangover in the new single “Cancun” recorded with his band the Moonshiners and out everywhere this coming July 30th. In this track, Still and the Moonshiners are dealing in smart harmonies exclusively, putting all of their focus on creating larger than life melodic gold that toes the line between old time rock n’ roll and new school country swing. “Cancun” is a rhythm rollercoaster for sure, but not one that any listener need to feel intimidated by.

MORE ON RUSS STILL & THE MOONSHINERS: https://russstill.com/

The keys in this song are as stinging as any of the guitar parts in a couple of different moments, and together these two components create a tonal duality that you just don’t find in mainstream country music anymore. Russ Still and the Moonshiners aren’t tugging at our attention in an annoying fashion so much as they’re competing for our affections with studded grooves and freeform melodies that attack us from both stereophonic channels in this mix. When taking into account how little action Nashville is producing these days, this song is too thrilling to resist.

Still’s vocal is somewhat buried beneath the instrumentation in a style that I usually wouldn’t approve of, but for what he’s trying to do in “Cancun,” I think it’s an excusable measure. There’s so much pummeling intensity taking place between the different melodic elements here that it’s almost pointless to make the singing the lone centerpiece on the table in the style of a pop song. What Russ Still and the Moonshiners are attempting is steeped in bar rock traditions that simply don’t allow for such creative singularity to coexist with the larger goal in mind – making us dance all night long.

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Which brings me to the most pivotal component of this track’s charm; it’s danceable rhythm. I haven’t any doubts whether or not Still intended this to be a soundtrack to any crowded honky tonk gathering, as if he didn’t, the collective push of the instrumentation and the vocal wouldn’t be nearly as monstrous as it is around every turn. Physicality is the name of the game in this song, and that’s why I think it’s probably the heaviest and most dance-friendly piece of material to ever bear the Russ Still and the Moonshiners moniker.

If you’re looking for some hot honky tonk of the dirtiest variety, this is unquestionably the band you want to go see this season for all of your melodic needs. “Cancun” gives us access to a freewheeling Russ Still and the Moonshiners that sound more than content with their place in the hierarchy of indie country acts in the American underground today. They’ve got nothing to prove, nor are they regressing in their aesthetical approach. Russ Still is becoming a consistent force to be reckoned with, and anyone who questioned his skillset would do well to take a peek at this new song and reexamine their opinion.

Sebastian Cole