Country Jukebox Jury EP: LANCO – Honky-Tonk Hippies

What happened to LANCO, whose Greatest Love Story was a radio smash and who put on a raucous show at Country2Country in 2018?

A series of underwhelming songs has replaced any second album, though I did like Near Mrs which came out a few months ago. That track is not on the five-track EP which was smuggled out over Independence Day weekend called Honky-Tonk Hippies. The EP opens with the title track, which itself opens with Brandon Lancaster (the LAN of the band) telling the story of how he moved to Nashville, got a record deal and recorded the first album. Over a country-rock riff Brandon sings a song of self-empowerment, full of band t-shirts and the two words that explain his way of life, which wasn’t really evident on that first album which wasn’t particularly hippie or honky-tonk.

Wild Again is a reminiscin’ song that sounds anything but wild. For all the talk about dents in trucks, cold ones at Quick Stops, ‘blue collar holler’ and calling up my baby, this is ploddy. I would hope this punches the audience into submission live. In fact, Moonlight Mingle is just right, even if it’s a near identical lyric to Wild Again thanks to songs on the radio and lots of beer; it isn’t quite the same because there’s a linedance routine in the middle eight that even a child can do, ‘step it to the left, then you step it to the right’.

Given that track four is called I Need A Beer – a list song of things Brandon needs that will fill out your country bingo card – it makes me think that LANCO are doing their version of a Luke Bryan EP where all the songs sound good at a cookout. The production isn’t as punchy as Luke’s stuff and it’s pleasant enough.

The charming singalong Price You Pay (‘for living a country song’) opens with Brandon strumming an acoustic guitar and it turns out he’s singing about singing. Hangovers, cigarette smoke, trucks stuck in mud and a mandolin solo all appear. How these songs will fit in with the big hits of the first album is anyone’s guess and I imagine LANCO aren’t looking for country radio success any more.

If they keep some of the fans who latched onto their polished songs, there’s hope for them.

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