Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
This album starts off quite strong with the track Fine Fine Day. Fine Fine Day is a song of polar opposites. Good vs evil, happy vs sad, etc. The song has some very beautiful vocals yet it also contains some very fast and somewhat scary instrumentation that makes this song an adventure. Banditos do a great job of walking that tight rope, cruising between the dark side and the light. This song is brilliant and made to be played at least 100 times. Well, not in one day. Unless you feel it is absolutely necessary.
Q: Who are these Banditos? A: They are a six piece outfit originally from Birmingham, AL but now reside in Nashville. If you think Nashville is full of just bro country, you are sadly mistaken. Nashville is poised to be the outlaw and alt-country music capital of the US. There are at least six bands that I can think of right now that are really changing the perception and reality of Nashville. And I couldn’t be happier.
Banditos sound is a little country, a lot of rock and roll, some punk, and a good bit of psychedelia. Again, kudos to Bloodshot for really varying their roster to offer so many musical options that are quite diverse. All the acts, including Banditos, fit nicely under the Bloodshot umbrella, but all of the bands sound nothing like each other. Unfortunately, the phrase 31 flavors is already taken, but it could apply to Bloodshot.
Thick n Thin (Track 4) is a very bluesy and boogie woogie number with a good bit of twang. It reminds me of a Leon Russel song, mostly due to the vocals. This is an incredibly solid song on an album full of heavy weight contenders.
This album is not all uptempo rockers. There are a handful of soulful ballads, most notably, Healin’ Slow (Track 5). Mary Beth Richardson’s incredibly sultry voice makes this song a game changer. Definitely a mix of good old rock and roll and rhythm and blues. This is what R&B should sound like. Full of emotion and real instruments. No samples and thank the Lord, no auto-tune.
Visionland is a great listen and really challenges the boundaries of what country music is. All the songs are expertly played and recorded and these guys know how to push the envelop enough to be innovative and still make an album that is a joy to listen to. This will definitely make the best of 2017 list for me. I say that with supreme confidence.