In many ways, Banditos really start with way too much of an advantage for us to review this record impartially. Firstly, this debut album is released on Bloodshot Records, a label that has released loads of stuff we love. Secondly, they have the best album cover we have seen for some time. As soon as you see that cover, you just know that this is going to be a ‘proper’ rock n roll band.
Thankfully all that expectation is met instantly with opening track “The Breeze”, which is a dirty, seventies feeling, blues rocker. There is a similar tone on “Golden Grease” which is a song we could see easily fitting on The Doors’ LA Woman album.
The key to this album, however, is the willingness to throw in some diversity. “Waitin’” is like some kind of country hoe down and “No Good” is a brilliant and very sultry blues number. Whilst, unless we are mistaken, “Long Gone, Anyway” is led by a kazoo! One of the things that Banditos use to great effect is the switch between male and female vocals. Often one tends to lead the song but on the Latino feeling “Ain’t It Hard” they interchange with each verse, which has a great impact.
The band still have some time for some traditional, good old rock n roll, on tracks like “Still Sober (After All These Beers)” and “Can’t Get Away”. These songs have an almost rockabilly feel to them. Indeed, “Cry Baby Cry”, with its honky tonk piano, is very Jerry Lee Lewis. Those songs provide a great pick me up when contrasted with the more downbeat blues of “Old Ways”. The album then ends with “Preachin’ To The Choir” a song that really ought to have been on the soundtrack to the awesome TV show True Blood, given its haunting, swampy tone.
The first time we listened to this album, we made the mistake of doing so with it played low on our iPod, so as not to disturb other commuters. The thing is, however, that it’s an album that needs to be played on a stereo, preferably on vinyl, at night, and very loud. Indeed, you get the sense that these are the sort of songs that need to be played live in a raucous, dark and somewhat dishevelled bar for you to really drink up the Bandito’s spirit.