The past two years spent on the road have done nothing to dull the sound and ambitions of Nashville, by way of Birmingham’s Banditos. Their 2015 self-titled debut (Bloodshot Records) was a magnificent mix of ZZ Top and the Georgia Satellites. The follow up, ‘Visionland,’ doubles down on those same ingredients and the result is twice as rewarding.
Lyrically, there are plenty of hints at struggle and trying to get by throughout the record, ultimately, there is a sense of optimism which rises above all else here. The title song, named after a now-defunct Birmingham theme park, for example, highlights that feeling perfectly – a theme park opened to big ideas and ambition, shuts down after just a couple of years, but the dreams are still there. The band, like others, plays a solid mix of swamp funk, country and rock, but the secret to the Banditos brilliance lies in their two singers, Mary Beth Richardson and Corey Parsons (shown off beautifully on songs like “Thick N’ Thin” and “Lonely Boy”). Elsewhere on the record, Richardson’s sweltering vocals on a slow jam like “Healin’ Slow” adds an impressive depth to the band’s catalogue.
Considering the exhausting schedule, they’ve been under since their last record, it would be understandable if the band decided to take some time off to walk away for a while. Thankfully, for us though they didn’t.
John B. Moore