Hacienda, Big Red & Barbacoa

Posted on January 5, 2011 by

And at number two…

Artist: Hacienda
Title: Big Red & Barbacoa
Label: Alive 0106
Released: April 6, 2010

I thought 2008’s Loud Is The Night was an uncovered gem. But San Antonio’s Hacienda has mined another from the pit. This time it’s from a barbecue pit, as the title confirms. It’s a good balance of a spice rub and smoke.

Yes, the harmonies still exist, sometimes in the four-part form. But instead of floating on a cloud, they exist in a smolder of a fuzz bass, like on the opening track, “Who’s Heart Are You Breaking Now?” (Yeah, that’s how it’s spelled on the album.) The song moves like a camel walk with the Everly Brothers riding on top.

As you’re loping along in the groove, the band throws this weird beat at you in track two, “Younger Days.” It’s like a waltz on the wrong beat with some stinging guitar lines. It’s definitely a challenging number. When you deconstruct it you hear different elements of rock music. When you put it all back together again it is organized noise. I love it. Where as “Got To Get Back Home” on side two, is as straight as waltz can get in rock music.

And they follow it up with “I Keep Waiting” a Beach Boys type song with a muffled Duane Eddy-like riff. “Hound Dog” too shows the Beach Boys influence. Brian Wilson would be proud of these numbers.

“Prisoner” sounds like Los Lobos meets “Iko Iko,” and then side A ends with the instrumental, “Big Red” and side B with another, “Barbacoa.” The instrumental cut is a lost art. The inclusion and the placement of these tracks proclaim a vision of an album as a whole.

Of the twelve tracks on the LP, all are original with the exception of the Everly Brothers cover, “You’re My Girl.” It’s a gritty number by Everly Brothers standards, and the Villanueva brothers take it one step further.

The production work was once again handled by Dan Auerbach of Black Keys fame. (Hacienda was also his backing band on his solo tour.) His touch is present, but it is not overriding great songs, nor is it glossing over crap. The album still sounds honest, not manufactured but crafted.

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