Pancho Ballard and the Banditos – Five Songs for Oscar (Self Released, 2010)
If Nick Lowe had felt despondent after the dissolution of Brinsley Schwarz, and while drowning his sorrows in a Mexican town had stumbled into a studio, the resulting music might have sounded like this UK band’s new five-song EP. The melodies are pure pop, but sung with the flair of a gringo trying on faux-Mexican drama, and a horn section that’s as authentically South-of-the-Border as Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. The songs cover masked Mexican wrestling, a relationship-restoring recipe (based on the writer Isabel Allende’s “reconciliation soup”), and a painter whose trade as a forger casts a shadow on his soul. This might play more as a joke if the band weren’t good, but they actually match up to their guarantee: “The best Mexican band to have come out of England!” Well, “Mexican,” anyway. Their self-titled debut album, heavier on the ‘60s guitars, country-rock and humor, is available for free on their website, but this EP, particularly “Lucha Libre” and “Soup Song,” more deeply fulfills the band’s promise.