Texas/Red Dirt and some of the other good subgenres of country music are finally starting to get their due.
Young guns like Parker McCollum, Koe Wetzel, and others are getting millions and millions of listens on Spotify, and even some of the bands that have been around for a little bit longer, like Turnpike, Whiskey Myers, and their contemporaries, are still gaining new fans as well. Even the casual country music fan probably might know a song or two by all these guys at this point. And while Flatland Cavalry, might not be a household name just yet, they’re well on their way to becoming one of the best bands in Texas.
The Lubbock-based band got started around 2012, and have been putting out real deal country music ever since. Led by frontman Cleto Cordero, they’ve already released two full length albums, an EP, and a handful of singles since 2015.
For anybody who is completely unfamiliar with Flatland Cavalry, they are compared pretty frequently to Turnpike. The band may not be quite on Turnpike’s level, but I don’t know if any band ever will be. Nonetheless, the comparison between the two bands is an accurate one. Flatland’s sound is fueled by acoustic guitars and fiddle, and Cordero is one of the best lyricists and storytellers in the game right now.
This is the type of modern country music that should be played on the radio, but as we’ve all seen lately, good country music on the radio must be an unreasonable expectation. It’s just a matter of time, though, until these guys make it as big as some of the other artists I mentioned earlier.
Here are five of Flatland Cavalry songs you should check out, and hopefully, you’ll see just how underrated they are.
“A Life Where We Work Out” (Featuring Kaitlin Butts)
Released in 2016 on the Humble Folks album, “A Life Where We Work Out” is by far their most-streamed song to date.
“Life is only ups and downs Maybe you’ll come on back around Save me from what I’ve become Lord knows I can’t keep losing sleep dreaming about A life where we work out”
The song is about a couple concerned whether they will actually work out, but fast forward four years, and Cleto Cordero and Kaitlin Butts are actually getting married. Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood can step aside, because Cleto and Kaitlin may be the best couple in country music now.
Kaitlin posted this about the upcoming wedding a few days ago on Instagram.
Their most recent release, the introspective “War With My Mind” came out back in April.
“I’m lost in a maze that ain’t got an exit Stuck in a phase of bad habits I can’t quit I’ve run out of faith and I can’t see the light Down in the trenches, at war with my mind”
“Coyote [The Ballad of Roy Johnson]” (Featuring William Clark Green)
Despite the fact that it isn’t even in their top 10 on Spotify, this track is a favorite among all Flatland fans. The term Coyote refers to someone who smuggles people across the Mexico/US border. While this song is completely fictional, Roy Johnson is actually the name of one of Cordero’s best friends in real life.
“’Cause you won’t hear me coming, and you won’t see my face I cut that trail a thousand times, all without a trace It’s my line of business, No, it ain’t a pretty thing My name is Roy Johnson, Coyote is my trade”
“Living By Moonlight”
My favorite song off their most recent 2019 album Homeland Insecurity, “Living By Moonlight” is an interesting take on bars and nightlife.
“But I’ve been livin’ by moonlight, wishin’ on stars We’re in the midnight, hidin’ our scars Sippin’ on poison, breathin’ in fire Slowly killing myself, just to feel alive.”
“No Shade of Green”
This is Flatland Cavalry’s best song.
Off of their 2015 EP Come May, “No Shade of Green is actually based off of a true story. In the video below, Cordero talks about a road trip he and some of his buddies took to College Station to see Turnpike play at Chilifest. Cordero and Roy Johnson, as mentioned earlier, noticed a good looking girl dancing on a cooler to Turnpike’s “Long Hot Summer Day.” One of their friends went and talked to her, but by the next day they couldn’t remember her name.
“And you oughtta see her singin’ songs From the Cooler she’s been standin’ on She might as well be the main stage Singin’ all the words to “Long Hot Summer Day” And I can’t look away
And I wish that I could remember your name My jaded heart will never be the same I wish that I could remember your name ‘Cause I know you’re more than just a pretty face”
Cleto Cordero’s obviously got good taste in music too, calling the Turnpike Troubadours his favorite band.
Maybe one day Flatland Cavalry will be as legendary as Turnpike, maybe they won’t. But one thing is for sure, these guys are seriously underrated right now, and that needs to change.