Alabama's Banditos come out of the gate storming on their self-titled debut, a collection of dirty, rickety, overflowing-with-life rock tracks, hightailing through the open spaces of cowboy land like their band name implies. There's not a lot of let-up as the gang of six scramble their way through a dozen tracks soaked in rockabilly soul.It's easy in 2015 to forget how badass the banjo can be. Years of boring, classicist folk types and hip young guys recalling a past they never lived have doused the rebel winds that reside in the hollow core of the banjo.
Banditos’ debut album throws together a backyard shed’s worth of rock and country influences and comes out sounding like a Deep South bar band that got tired of playing covers and started writing their own songs. They’re another in the succession of 21st century roots bands that’s decided, consciously or not, to obliterate the lines between the genres. Consequently, the album’s opening track, “The Breeze”, grooves like ‘70s ZZ Top but adds banjo, organ, and female harmonies to round out the sound and drenches it all in layers of guitar fuzz.
The tricky thing with most roots rock acts in the 21st century is they're not always sure just how hard to hit -- too gentle and their music loses its strength, too hard and the results sound like some sort of overcooked greaser parody. Banditos, the self-titled debut album from these Alabama-to-Nashville transplants, confirms this is one band that's found the sweet spot and knows how to work it; these folks look and sound like a gang of outlaws, tough and not afraid to throw down the gauntlet, but they also know about a thing called dynamics, and their fusion of country, rock, gospel, jazz, and blues is filled with just enough space to give all the parts breathing room. They can go whisper-quiet on a late-night paean to sneaking around like "Ain't It Hard," rock on out on the rockabilly-infused "Still Sober (After All These Beers)," make with some hot-wired boogie on "The Breeze," scamper with ragtime jazz on "Long Gone, Anyway," or stretch out on a slow blues like "No Good" or "Old Ways" and approach each with just the right measure of sweat, muscle, and instrumental skill.
BanditosBanditos(Bloodshot)Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars Scraggly long hair, beards and droopy hats is the fashion statement of the ready for Duck Dynasty likes of Nashville by way of Alabama outlaws the Banditos. And, true to their desperado name and scruffy, Lynyrd Skynyrd/Outlaws/Molly Hatchet appearance, the sextet’s music is appropriately shit-kicking rock, shot through with enough banjo and hot pickin’ to get them some country and even bluegrass attention. Tougher than leather frontwoman Mary Beth Richardson’s whisky laced howl drives much of this debut and the gruff band takes care of the rest of the boozy, pistol packing Southern attack.