There’s a lot to be said for a band playing lots of shows: it tends to keep them tight and gives them an opportunity to work out any little niggles in the songs in order to get them right before they’re recorded. That’s the idea, anyway. But all the live performances in the world can’t help a band if they don’t actually have the communication and cohesion to make the recording experience work as well as the live experience.
Sydney band The Mezcaltones play a lot, around their home city and also at festivals like Tamworth, Dashville and Groundwater. Their live shows are highly energetic and entertaining, becoming more so with time – a sign that not only is the band full of professionals but that they understand their relationship with their audience: they’re not on stage just to amuse themselves but to deliver something great. It’s always worth understanding the context of any band or artist’s music before approaching a recording, because that context is a big part of the story of any album (or song). So it is with Mexican Hillbilly Surf Music, The Mezcaltones’ third album. The nine tracks are as tight and professional as the band’s live sound and also manage to capture the spirit of the performance, which can sometimes be lacking when a great live band gets into the studio.
The opening track, ‘Hillbilly Surf Rage’, is an instrumental displaying the impressive lead guitar of El Shango – and a little (not unwelcome) misdirection, because this is a band whose lead vocalist, Col Padre (as he’s styled here), is central to their sound. Drawing on Waylon, Willie and Johnny for inspiration with a dose of Slim Dusty’s wry style, Col sets the tone for the rest of the tracks, a mix of originals and covers. The album comes in just under thirty minutes in length, although a lot is packed into that time, including both types of music (country and western, of course). This is a road trip album, a party treat, and a pick-me-up. Summer may be ending, but there’s still time to appreciate this perfect package of Mexican hillbilly surf music.
Buy from the band: https://www.the-mezcaltones.com/store