There is something about the Banditos’ sound that makes me want to believe they got ignited to learn to play music one day totally haphazardly; just by vigorously strumming their instruments until a fireball of tunes came barreling out . This band isn’t rough around the edges; they are real and rough through and through. For all I know, it could very well be, that every member of this edgy rock sextet, has actually been classically trained. However, if that is the case, when this band hits the stage, they shake off their well-trained roots like a southern belle ditching cotillion for a backyard blowout.
They are everything your gourmandizing ear would want an Alabama band to be, with songs rich in soul and poor in “morals”. They stir up those deeply-rooted raw rock ‘n’ roll instincts inside you, the way you thought only the classics like CCR, Chuck Berry, or Janis Joplin could. The band features Corey Parsons on vocals and guitar, Steve Pierce on banjo and vocals, Mary Richardson on vocals, tambourine, and occasionally kazoo, Jeffrey Salter on electric guitar and lap steel, Danny Vines on bass, and Randy Wade on drums. Needless to say, they make a lot of (honky tonk & rock ‘n’ roll) noise.
Though the band has previously recorded albums, one most notably with Andrija Tokic, the producer of Alabama Shakes’ breakthrough Boys and Girls album, they haven’t released these albums for purchase except at live shows. Their official debut album is set to come out by Spring of 2015. Among the crowd of music critics and fans not-so-patiently anticipating this release, are DJs from stations like WUSF 89.7, 96.5 WSLR, Gravel Road Radio, and Scenester Radio, who have been showing their support via airplay time. Banditos recently signed with Bloodshot records, which makes perfect sense after running into this quote from the Chicago based indie label.
”If you want unaffected rock and roll, we got it. You want some old school Honky Tonk untarnished…We got it.”
Sadly, the group is rounding off their Wicky Wild Wild West tour with just three more chances to see them on December 19 in Nashville, TN, December 20 in Louisville, KY, and December 22 in Knoxville, TN. If you can’t make any of those shows, do as I have, and create a playlist titled Dirty with these five filthy songs.
1. Golden Grease
Full-bodied vocals from Mary, Steven, and Corey power this steam engine locomotive down fog laden tracks. Where they’re heading, nobody knows, but booze, heartbreak, and dancing will be had along the way. Corey’s soft growl premises a steady build to uninhibited foot-stomping glory. Every time I think this band is going to deliver a sultry slow song, they turn up the rock n’ roll heat and boil the water right out of the pot. Their rough Alabama twang sneaks into all of their songs in the best of ways, but it’s especially apparent in this doozy.
2. The Breeze
Good ole fashioned gritty rock n’ roll. Try not to dance to this song, I dare you.
3. No Good
A slow, soulful ballad from the perspective of a no bull, no apologizing, no good girl—need you know more? Let’s just say Janis Joplin wouldn’t stray to far away from this one.
4. Long Gone, Away
There are a lot of great things happening in this song—the beautiful play between Corey and Mary’s voices, Jeffrey’s honky tonk guitar riffs, and a wacky spirit from start to finish—but, by far the greatest part of this song is how Mary somehow manages to make a kazoo sound like a ragtime trumpet.
5. I Put A Spell On You
Whether due to a melody too beautiful to forget or a pain to0 human to fade, certain songs have the staying power that permits them to grace the ears of listeners decades and sometimes centuries after the song’s birth. The next level of this phenomenon are the songs reincarnate, who gain their immortality through a myriad of covers. These songs are like musical rites of passage, and the way a musician translates them says everything about their aesthetic. Since the time Screamin’ Jay Hawkins first recorded the 1956 hit ‘I Put A Spell On You’, artists have been trying to reinvent its magic. While no one will ever achieve the bewitching power of Hawkin’s primal, voodoo original, this is a song that comes from the gut rather than the heart, and covers of it reveal those performers who can abandon all logic and deliver a purely visceral performance. Notable covers include Nina Simone’s jazzy rendition, a silky plea to a no good lover, CCR’s version, a gritty drudge through muddy heartache, and Marilyn Manson’s rendering, a slow burn from spooky trance beginning, to a wicked head-banging fiendish romp ending.
While I wouldn’t normally feature a cover song, the Banditos took this song and, like the artists mentioned above, made it their own. I don’t know if Mary has ever been jilted, but her bark carries the ferocious truth of a woman scorned. Contrast those vocals with an oddly sweet banjo and calming bass accompaniment, and your imagination goes wild. The song feels like the soundtrack to the methodical thoughts of a woman who’s made up her mind to take matters into her own hands. David Salter’s explosive guitar solo at the 3 minute mark signifies the moment the spell has been cast. In all their madly cruel, untamable, intoxicating, spirited brilliance; this band put a spell on me, and now, I’m theirs.