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
Apple Music | iTunes | Spotify
Sydney band The Mezcaltones are known for their high-energy live shows – and their collective sense of humour, which ensures each show is entertaining as well as being musically excellent. Both energy and humour are present in their new single ‘Na Na Na’ and the accompanying video, seen below. The Mezcaltones are taking their outlaw country-rock sound to the 2020 Tamworth Country Music Festival at Joe Maguire’s Pub:
18 January – 1.30 to 4.30 p.m.
19 January – 7.00 to 10.00 p.m.
21 January – 7.00 to 10.30 p.m
Apple Music | Spotify
This is not so much a single release as a video release from Sydney band The Mezcaltones – and, frankly, this video is highly entertaining, which is in keeping with the band’s live vibe. They have gathered quite a following in their home town as well as at the Tamworth Country Music Festival, where they will be appearing again next year.
In the meantime, enjoy ‘Painted Lady’ below and their debut EP is available now.
The Mezcaltones have been together for a handful of years and over the past couple they have developed an enthusiastic fan base at the Tamworth Country Music Festival. The reason for that is that they turn on professional, exciting, entertaining live shows that mix up covers and original material, instrumentals and songs, and never let the audience get bored.
Although the Mezcaltones aren’t strictly country music people – their style is Tex-Mex rock with a dose of Western swing – they share something fundamental with country music artists: an interest in their audiences. That’s why their shows are so good – they are put together with the intention to keep toes tapping and heads nodding. The band members are, to a person, experienced musicians and performers who have refined their skills until they are exactly on point.
The Mezcaltones’ eponymous debut EP captures that live experience: the mix of covers with original material; the driving, upbeat tempos; the lead vocals from Col Porter that a perfect fit for the band’s sound, and the general sense of the whole enterprise being a good time to record as much as it is to listen to.
The EP is seven songs’ worth of material that is guaranteed to bring a smile. If you never make it to a show, rest assured you are getting the next best thing – and turn it up loud.