10 New Country Artists You Need to Know: May 2016

From an unapologetic cowboy singer to a dazzling chanteuse-wordsmith

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The Last Bandoleros
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10/10

The Last Bandoleros

Sounds Like: A rebooted Los Lobos with a surplus of infectious hooks, aiming its Tex-Mex fusion squarely at country radio

For Fans of: Texas Tornados, the Mavericks, Flaco Jiménez

Why You Should Pay Attention: Going back to Doug Sahm’s pioneering work with the Sir Douglas Quintet in the 1960s and later with Texas Tornados, Tejano music has cut a sly but constant presence in country music. (Think Freddy Fender's hit version of "Before the Next Teardrop Falls.") As the Last Bandoleros, a trio of young guns from Texas and New York, Jerry Fuentes, Diego Navaira (the son of Tejano superstar Emilio Navaira) and Derek James are the next generation of Tex-Mex renegades. Their music caroms wildly from rock and country to conjunto and pop, adding up to a sound that's hard to pin down — and to get out of your head. Warner Music Nashville will release the band's debut album later this year, and Sting, who popped up onstage at a Bandoleros showcase in New York recently, is an early supporter.

They Say: "It feels like country music is experiencing a broadening of its borders, which is exciting for us because we know we're not a down-the-middle country band. We have a lot of flavors," says James. "As important as our musical tastes are, it's equally important to like the people you're making music with. We're coming from a place of mutual admiration, and that was the key for us as a group."

Hear for Yourself: First single "Where Do You Go?" has a roadhouse rhythm that plays off rich harmonies — plus a breakneck accordion solo. James Reed