Our Favourite Gang Band Get a Punk Infused Psychedelic Groove On.
For the fifth time in as many weeks I’m reviewing an album that has made me go “Well; I wasn’t expecting THAT!”
The Banditos self-titled debut album came along at just the right time for me in 2015, blowing the cobwebs from my mind with their ‘Biker Chic and Bar-room Boogie’ so I was expecting more of the same here; but it appears they have been listening to their old record collection and torn up that play book.
Opening track Fine, Fine Day opens with some Prog feedback then sweeps into a Gabba, Gabba Hey style 90mph American Punk Rock that had me (mentally) headbanging and fist-pumping……I love it!
But it’s followed by a groovy piece of 60’s Psychedelic Rock, with Mary Beth going all Grace Slick while taking the lead vocals on Strange Heart. On it’s own it’s actually a wonderful song but my head was already spinning by the end. Later the title track Visionland turns everything on it’s head too, with the band going all harmonious and Pop-Rocky on a song that sounds like it could have been an early Jefferson Airplane album track.
Here you get to appreciate their collective songwriting on the likes of Thick n Thin, When It Rains and the Alt. Country Deluxe of Lonely Boy.
What I especially wasn’t prepared for from The Banditos was the judicious use of a banjo on many of the tracks here and on Fun All Night we are even treated to a kazoo solo…..yep, you read it right…a kazoo solo!
While every single track stands out in one way or another; I’ve fallen in love with two in particular.
On the beautiful torch song Healin’ Slow Mary Beth takes us on a sad old journey that builds to a heart-shredding finale worthy of Dusty Springfield if she’d ever fronted REM.
The other is a classy Country Rocker, DDT which closes the album and shows the whole band in their bar-room glory with it’s tight rhythm section, scorching guitars (a rocking banjo too) plus Mary Beth and Corey Parson trading lines like Kris Kristofferson and Rita back in the day.
Now I’ve played the album a few days I’m sort of ‘getting it’……VISIONLAND is a bit ‘all over the place’ but actually showcases the bands many and varied talents in a way that the debut album probably didn’t.
Released 23rd June 2017