Precious Stones, The Bandit Kings first full length album was recorded in 2010 at Tony Goddess’ Bang-A-Song Studios on the coastal seaport of Gloucester, MA. First single, Show Me the Stars Tonight, combines a country twang with rolling guitar and conspiratorial song-play by lead singers, Ann Marie and Renee Dupuis. Call it Alt. Country, Jangle Rock, Cowpunk, Rock/Pop/Indie, the album is full of surprises and thoughtful originality, from the angry roar of The Jerker, to the steady mantra of GoGoGo. Also on the album are fan favorites Threads and Over, as well as radio hit Laredo all emphasizing moody harmonies and honest homages to love, heart-crush, and moving on. The album’s special ingredient is a mixture of Ann Marie’s spine tingling raw rasp and Renee’s dreamy intimate delivery.
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Why am I thinking of Kim Wilde and “Kids in America” as I listen to the opening track, “The Jerker”? And is that a good thing or a bad thing? I guess it’s pretty good, at least as a signifier. The Bandit Kings are certainly not transcendent genre-redefining geniuses, but they’re obviously not dumbos—their musicianship is rhyth-mically sharp and the songs are firmly grounded in and informed by melodic values out of both old-timey country rock and modern-day idioms such as commercially oriented post-punk indie rock. It could be a dire mix in lesser hands. Done well, it is the band’s unique selling proposition. The follow-up track, “Motorcycle,” is catchy in a joyfully deterministic sort of way. “GoGoGo” is an appealingly melodic elegiac. “Twist My Arm” has echoes of the archaism of the Band but with an in-your-face rock ’n’ roll attitude. ”Threads” is an incipient classic; a truly inspired anthemic rallying-cry. “Show Me the Stars Tonight” has a countrified Yo La Tengo vibe. “Laredo” is a lovely country ballad in its own right, a welcome addition to the genre. “YTOFM” is full of almost anomalously joyful lowbrow expressiveness executed with the subtlety of high art; a fine feat. The album features inspirational tunes like “Decompression” and “Over,” as well as being jammed throughout with joie de vivre. These musicians are no ironists, camp followers, or genre clowns; rather than treating country as a bad joke, they take the genre, and their work, quite seriously indeed, enough to make even a jaded connoisseur want to really like them, and the care they have put into their debut collection is proof. I am even willing to stick my neck out onto the chopping block—something I’ve done about half a dozen times in the last twenty-six years-—and venture that these guys have the potential to be huge. Not lower-case “h” huge, but Huh-yooooge. I wish them Godspeed.”
-Francis DiMenno (The Noise-Boston)
When someone tells us to “GoGoGo,” we usually expect to be in a warzone and have grenades or thermal detonators exploding all around us. Now the problem with this is that the Bandit Kings are going to get your ass killed in the warzone. No, I don’t think we’d have any problem with them being reliable soldiers, but their version of “GoGoGo” is so easily enjoyable that you might pause to look around and savor the blue sky or an attractive patch of grass on the ground and get yourself blowed up by the enemy. But you’ll be happy, right?
The snappy pacing of the track is brought about by a crisp, “do they really surf in the country?” drumbeat that tumbles along the road briskly, gathering some moss and ringing guitar chords along its trip. Twin vocals captain the melody on its journey, and while they never, ever seem to part, they are equally strong – like if Simon and Garfunkel weren’t two dudes but instead two women. Much like S & G, this track’s melody comes as a set of intervals – you can pick either one and it will work. But good luck picking just one.
The melody and pacing keep this track go-go-going for the entirety of its three minutes in your speakers. The thing is; the track builds up enough momentum that you will probably want to come back for seconds, thirds, and so-forths. “GoGoGo” is like a pleasant breeze that refreshes and gives you a little push all at the same time.
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