Banditos Visionland

Album Review by Jared Lynch

Visionland is the sophomore release of Banditos, a Nashville/Birmingham group that growls with the grittiness of garage punk filtered through modern Americana. Released through Bloodshot Records, Visionland wears its influences on its sleeve, while pushing into new territory. The band boasts three lead singers, who seamlessly move in and out of the foreground, alternate the responsibility of leading the audience through the music. The shifting nature of the narrator serves well with the shifting influences and nuances of the music itself.

 

The opening track “Fine, Fine Day,” energetically and hazily captures the audience while setting the tone of the album with its murky rawness, and just the right amount of grittiness. Singers Corey Parsons and Mary Beth Richardson complement one another on this song, which fits just as well with breaking into an abandoned amusement park in the middle of the day as it does with tapping a boot heel in a late-night bar on the side of a highway. That same haziness bleeds into the following song “Strange Heart,” in which Richardson lulls the audience into a false sense of calmness before resurrecting Janis Joplin in a raw, gritty chorus. It’s common throughout the album for Richardson to present these different facets of her voice, pulling out stunning vibrato, raging choruses, and true grit. These two tracks serve as anchor for the remainder of the album, with a majority of the songs propagating the central mood and themes that compose them. “Still and Quiet” feels like a continuation of “Strange Heart,” as though serving as a call and response, while the title track “Visionland” continues as a slower “Fine, Fine Day.”

 

Two of the stronger moments of the album are found in the slower numbers “Healin’ Slow” and “When It Rains,” the former of which serves as the centerpiece of the album. “Healin’ Slow” resonates firstly because of the change in mood and tempo, with Richardson gripping the audience in a soulful song that makes one imagine a Nancy Sinatra-fronted, haunted Southern doo wop band, albeit one with a banjo. One of the strongest parts of the song is the turning point, in which the speaker decides that it is time to begin healing, and get back to living life. “When It Rains” offers more depth to the sound, with its quality reminiscent of Devendra Banhart’s Mala. Again, it adds a needed calmness to the otherwise energetic album.

 

Sonically, Banditos have a clear understanding of their sound and composition, of which the audience is intimately familiar with by the second half of the album. The band doesn’t deviate much from this core, except in the slower tracks listed above. There are moments in the latter half of the album where the music feels well-worn because it has already been defined by the first half. Even in these moments of feeling like the music has already been there, there is subtlety to the mix that allows for further engaging moments, such as the instruments that dive in and out of the foreground, paired with the alternating vocalists. Banditos have created a solid album that is sure to further solidify their stature as a new voice in the genres. They are great at what they’re doing, but there is still plenty of room for growth. They seem like a band that can do that.

 

Favorite Tracks:     "Fine, Fine Day",  "Healin’ Slow"

Banditos Visionland

Album Review by Jared Lynch

Visionland is the sophomore release of Banditos, a Nashville/Birmingham group that growls with the grittiness of garage punk filtered through modern Americana. Released through Bloodshot Records, Visionland wears its influences on its sleeve, while pushing into new territory. The band boasts three lead singers, who seamlessly move in and out of the foreground, alternate the responsibility of leading the audience through the music. The shifting nature of the narrator serves well with the shifting influences and nuances of the music itself.

 

The opening track “Fine, Fine Day,” energetically and hazily captures the audience while setting the tone of the album with its murky rawness, and just the right amount of grittiness. Singers Corey Parsons and Mary Beth Richardson complement one another on this song, which fits just as well with breaking into an abandoned amusement park in the middle of the day as it does with tapping a boot heel in a late-night bar on the side of a highway. That same haziness bleeds into the following song “Strange Heart,” in which Richardson lulls the audience into a false sense of calmness before resurrecting Janis Joplin in a raw, gritty chorus. It’s common throughout the album for Richardson to present these different facets of her voice, pulling out stunning vibrato, raging choruses, and true grit. These two tracks serve as anchor for the remainder of the album, with a majority of the songs propagating the central mood and themes that compose them. “Still and Quiet” feels like a continuation of “Strange Heart,” as though serving as a call and response, while the title track “Visionland” continues as a slower “Fine, Fine Day.”

 

Two of the stronger moments of the album are found in the slower numbers “Healin’ Slow” and “When It Rains,” the former of which serves as the centerpiece of the album. “Healin’ Slow” resonates firstly because of the change in mood and tempo, with Richardson gripping the audience in a soulful song that makes one imagine a Nancy Sinatra-fronted, haunted Southern doo wop band, albeit one with a banjo. One of the strongest parts of the song is the turning point, in which the speaker decides that it is time to begin healing, and get back to living life. “When It Rains” offers more depth to the sound, with its quality reminiscent of Devendra Banhart’s Mala. Again, it adds a needed calmness to the otherwise energetic album.

 

Sonically, Banditos have a clear understanding of their sound and composition, of which the audience is intimately familiar with by the second half of the album. The band doesn’t deviate much from this core, except in the slower tracks listed above. There are moments in the latter half of the album where the music feels well-worn because it has already been defined by the first half. Even in these moments of feeling like the music has already been there, there is subtlety to the mix that allows for further engaging moments, such as the instruments that dive in and out of the foreground, paired with the alternating vocalists. Banditos have created a solid album that is sure to further solidify their stature as a new voice in the genres. They are great at what they’re doing, but there is still plenty of room for growth. They seem like a band that can do that.

 

Favorite Tracks:     "Fine, Fine Day",  "Healin’ Slow"

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