Banditos: Visionland Review

If you want to be purist about it, then you’d probably need a crowbar to lever Banditos into the Blues Rock category. My advice would be – don’t be purist. Hats off to this six-piece outfit originating in Birmingham, Alabama, for pulling off Visionland – a carousel of genres that’ll have you scrambling in all directions for reference points. Garage rock, alt.country, 60s West Coast sounds, Band-like rootsiness – you name it, they hint at it.

Opener “Fine Fine Day” is a garage rock blast, like a revved up version of Jonathan Richman’s “Road Runner” with the added bonus of a wig-out guitar solo from Corey Parsons. By contrast the title track has a West Coast air, combining dreamy verses with delicate banjo from Stephen Pierce and echoing guitar notes from Jeff Salter, ahead of a squall of distorted guitar to round things off.

With Pierce’s banjo often to the fore, the country leanings are understandable, but they’re not clichéd. The Patsy Cline-esque “Healin’ Slow” is as conventional as they get, with Mary Beth Richardson taking the vibrato edge off her vocal, backed by piano and delicate banjo and guitar over a ticking rhythm. “Thick N’Thin” has a loping quality, with soulful backing vocals from Richardson and echoes of Creedence and Delbert McClinton, while “Lonely Boy” features passages of lush instrumentation, and melds male and female vocals sensitively. The mellow, West Coast mood returns on “When It Rains” with hushed vocals over ripples of pinging banjo and guitar notes. Ironically, given the title, it has the kind of sun-kissed Californian vibe that Avi Buffalo served up a few years back. Contrastingly, “Fun All Night” and “DDT” both pick up the CCR thread, the former relaxed and swinging and featuring a kazoo solo of all things, the latter rattling along before a downshift into a melancholy outro.

With Parsons, Pierce and Richardson trading male and female vocals, and pedal steel and banjo thrown into the mix, Banditos bring plenty of variety to their arrangements. On one level they’re throwbacks to the Sixties, but on another they’re a 21st century explosion of their influences, with the musical chops to back it up, and with Visionland they should both intrigue and entertain you.

The Review: 8/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Fine Fine Day
– Visionland
– Healin’ Slow
– Thick N’Thin
– Fun All Night

The Big Hit

– Fine Fine Day

Review by Iain Cameron

Buy the album: Amazon

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