On a Scale of One to Roadhouse BY KRIS SKODA
Banditos’ “The Filthy Sessions” Album Review
On Banditos’ first full length album “The Filthy Sessions”, I’m reminded of why I got into music in the first place. The feeling you get when you hear a REALLY good album for the first time. Everyone is familiar with it, even if his or her taste may be different. Or unless they are deaf. I should get out of the way that, after Pine Hill Haints, Banditos is my favorite band in Alabama. I’ve seen (and booked) them many times; so I know well how these songs typically sound live. And I’ll be goddamn if they don’t sound as good or better here. Got plenty more review for you, but first, watch this.
Banditos is a seven-piece alternative country band out of Birmingham, AL reminiscent of acts like Grayson Capps and Colonel Dixies. They are comprised of acoustic guitar, banjo, tuba, stand up bass, steel guitar, electric guitar, drums, and vocals. They have three singers, two male, and one female. The frontman, Corey Parsons, looks and sounds like Grayson Capps if he was much younger and wilder than he ever was. Stephen Pierce, the banjo player, also offers backing vocals and sometimes takes the lead for a hot minute. This brings us to Mary Richardson, the last front of the band. Mary has soul in her voice, reminiscent of a much older jazz singer, such as Billie Holiday. Her voice has the tendency to stop potential haters right in their tracks, as I’ve seen at Alabama Music Box, The Blind Mule, and even Government Street Grocery many a time.
The album opens off with “Blood is Thicker Than Water”, a bluegrass tune with brass courtesy of newish member Ben Griner on tuba. The tuba adds much more than you think it would, especially live. The guitar licks on “Blood is Thicker Than Water” are reminiscent of Johnny Cash’s electric guitarist Luther Perkins. Actually, a lot of what electric guitarist/lap guitarist Jeffrey Salter plays is very reminiscent of Johnny Cash, which is interesting when combined with the way the rest of the band plays.
Stand up bass player/professional “Hagrid” from Harry Potter impersonator, Jeffrey Vines takes the bass for a walk in tracks like “Messin’ Around” and “The Gambler”. Drummer Randy Wade rarely gets a chance to REALLY cut loose, but in songs like “Filthy Havin’ Fun”, you get a chance to clearly see that the man’s got chops.
Lyrically, this is one of the better-written albums about getting fucked up and having a good time I’ve heard in a hot minute. Quote-worthy lines include “Listen to me man, said take my advice/if you’re gonna leave your girl around me….. better think twice” and “I’m still filthy havin’ fun/ always on the run/ and that, aint ever gonna change”. Though in true country/americana fashion, there are a number of songs about having hard times.
The album’s high points (and there are quite a few) come in songs like the melancholy “Let Me Go”, the high energy usual show closer “Filthy Havin’ Fun”, the short but catchy “Womanizing Blues”, the very Folsom Prison Blues- esque “The Gambler”, and album closer “Preaching to the Choir”. Bottom line: this is about as good as alternative country gets esteemed readers. If you like alt country/honky tonk/americana, you wont be able to resist. I give Banditos’ “The Filthy Sessions” an 8.5/10, but with a condition; this band is truly capable of one day making that perfect ten.
Even though I did my best to review the album, you really have to listen to understand. Here’s a link where you may listen to the whole album and please, let us know what YOU think: