Banditos – Visionland (album review)

Published: June 28, 2017


Photo by David McClister

I loved the 2015 debut by Banditos. It was a whiskey-soaked, ramshackle blast of Americana that was so loose that it felt like they just made it up as the six-piece poured out of the van. I love those type of albums but a band can only run on that aesthetic for so long before it gets stale and repetitive.

With their sophomore effort on Bloodshot, the Birmingham based band haven’t mellowed or slowed down; it just feels like they’ve incorporated a more soulful approach to the music. I don’t want to call it a transition album because that would be an insult to an album that I’m enjoying the hell out of. But I would say it is a really nice stepping stone to what I envision is going to be a career filled with some stellar albums.

Mary Beth Richardson, one third of the vocal combo, hits out of the park on a couple of tracks – Strange Heart and Healin’ Slow, the latter being one of the highlights on the album. Healin’ Slow is the tune you grab your baby close in the honky-tonk and never let her/him go. The band’s accompaniment is spot-on, particularly Stephen Pierce’s banjo. When It Rains sees Corey Parsons (I think) take the lead with whispered vocals on a track that has a nice soul groove to it.

And while the crew is showing some new tricks, obviously then can still get down with things. The opener Fine Fine Day, a tune born from a drunken day, has a hold-on-to-your hat twang punk thing going. And the closer, DDT is a great tune to close out an album. All three lead vocalist get a crack out the lead. The tune hits peaks, dips and then climbs again. Just brilliant.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

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