REVIEW: Banditos add Soul to Rock and Roll Swagger on “Right On”


Banditos is a five-piece band originally from Birmingham, Alabama, that now calls Nashville home. On its previous albums, the band became known for raw, swaggering rock and roll that is the sonic equivalent of a TV or movie character kicking a door to splinters.

The new album Right On was completed shortly before the time that the COVID-19 lockdown began. As a result, the album was put on hold. Then the band’s label Bloodshot Records was in flux before ultimately shutting its doors for good. That means the world has had to wait for the change that the band underwent when it recorded the new album.

Of the new album, vocalist Mary Beth Richardson said, “Everything we write is from the point of view of the everyman. We’re all in it together. I think the undertone of most of the music we write is inclusivity. Everyone can relate to it. Everyone can feel it.” She’s right about that. The band delivers these songs with just as much heart as on previous albums. This is still a rock band, but it has expanded its sound to include a lot more soul, complete with horns.

it doesn’t take long to hear the difference from the previous albums. The album begins with “Time Wasted”, a song that finds the band turning toward the past. Immediately, you hear a beat that recalls the sort of songs Phil Spector produced in the 60s. That sound is only enhanced by the sound of the organ and the backing vocals that recall some soul groups of the 60s. With the fuzzy guitar sound, this song is sort of a combination of old-time R&B and garage rock.

“Waves” stands in stark contrast to the opening song. It is a subdued melody that features some picking on the banjo. In the instrumental break, the song takes a turn toward the psychedelic with plenty of sustained notes from the guitar that brings Tedeschi Trucks Band to mind.

The strength of this album is that you can never guess what’s coming next. The title track features some horns that lean pretty heavily into the Memphis soul sound. “Deep End” is a rocker that is similar in sound to “On My Way Downtown” by Lucero. And then there’s “One More Time”, a song that is made for slow dancing with a partner at the end of a night in a dark bar. No matter the sound of a particular song, Richardson ties it all together with vocals that can best be described as big. She has a voice that was made for singing rock and soul.

Right On by Banditos is a study in the growth of the band. Sure, there is a lot of the rock and roll swagger that you’ve come to expect from the band, but there is so much more with the soul and psychedelic sounds. Every song is rock solid. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself listening to this album repeatedly. And loudly. Oh, and don’t be surprised if you find yourself singing along to every word even if your vocals aren’t as powerful as Richardson’s. The album is available everywhere on May 20. Order your copy here

or here:

Mary Beth Richardson – vocals
Corey Parsons – vocals, guitar
Randy Wade – drums
Jeffrey Salter – guitar
Stephen Pierce – vocals, bass, banjo
Produced by Jordan Lehning

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