Hacienda – Big Red & Barbacoa (Alive, 2010)
Among the most intriguing aspects of this San Antonio quartet’s second album is that you’re never quite sure what you’re listening to. Is it taking cues from early rock? California production pop? Stax soul? Tex-Mex? Neo-psychedelic grunge? The answer is ‘yes’ to all. At times, like the Beach Boys ‘65-inspired “Younger Days,” the influence is pure honorific. Other antecedents are amalgamated, such as the suggestions of Little Richard and Thee Midniters in the early rock ‘n’ soul of “Mama’s Cookin.” Others are honored and tweaked at the same time, such as a cover of the Everly Brothers’ “You’re My Girl,” on which the sound is a bit harder than the original, but the lust in the vocal gets at what Phil and Don could only allude to in 1965.
You can hear Sgt. Pepper’s-era Beatles in the guitars, the somber mood of Johnny Cash in the vocals, and the teenage energy of mid-60s go-go rock in the rhythms. But as quickly as one thing strikes you familiar another emerges from the mix to create doubts. “Got to Get Back Home” features the roller-rink organ of Dave “Baby” Cortez,” a Norteno polka-rhythm and accordion, and a vocal that swings like a drunken folk-revival whaling song. The closing title track is an instrumental session that sounds like ? and the Mysterians jamming a B-side in Memphis. As an added treat, several of the tracks are produced in punchy AM-ready mono and the album is available on vinyl!