Published May 08, 2015Alabama'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. Stephen Pierce's banjo provides a haunting skeleton for the guitars to grind around and recoups a little of the mystique the instrument has had stripped away by time. Add in some pedal steel and some upright bass and you've got yourself something that resembles some kind of punk rock hootenanny.
Armed with three singers who sport appropriately gravelly, worn vocals, the singing here is rich and varied. While the two male vocalists both kick the shit of their parts (Check out the piercing wailing on "Cry Baby Cry"), it's Mary Beth Richardson who is the star here. If you can get through "Old Ways" without feeling like your heart has been wrung out like a sopping rag, you might not actually have a heart. It's the welcome, beautiful moment of calm on a winning debut jam-packed with raucous outlaw energy. (Bloodshot)