Monday, June 23, 2014

SPAZ reviews the new album from LOS PACAMINOS!


LOS PACAMINOS

A FISTFUL OF STATINS




LOS PACAMINOS play music from the heart. Their blend of Tex Mex, Americana, Country, Folk, Blues, and Rock is passionate and inspiring. Play A Fistful Of Statins for your friends and they'll be certain that the band is made up of musicians who have spent the last few years traveling the U.S., baking under the hot summer sun during the day and sleeping in ramshackle motels at night. Their rootsy sound incorporates many influences that were born and raised along the border between the U.S. and Mexico: haunting pedal steel guitar, gently plucked and fervently strummed acoustic guitars, accordian, harmonica, and melodies that harken back to the wide eyed innocence of early Rock 'n' Roll.  Upon further investigation, it may surprise the listener to find out that Los Pacaminos are not based in Texas or Tennesse - they are actually from the UK.  Not only that, the band features some pretty talented musicians including Pop/Soul vocalist Paul Young, Drew Barfield (formerly of Power Pop legends The Keys), Matt Irving (who has played with many artists including Squeeze), Melvin Duffy (pedal steel player extraordinaire), Jamie Moses (Tom Jones/Queen/Pretenders) Steve Greetham (Joan Armatrading/Julia Fordham) and Mark Pinder (Zaine Griff/Alison Moyet).  Even Hamish Stuart and Robbie McIntosh make appearances on A Fistful Of Statins, the band's second album and their first in a decade.

From the delicious opening instrumental, "Razor Wire," it is plainly obvious that Los Pacaminos is far from a vanity project for Paul Young, who has been receiving most of the attention in the press.  In fact, Young handles only a few lead vocals on the album, allowing more room for the rest of the band members to contribute,  making this a truly collaborative effort between all involved.  Though the album isn't as raw as some might prefer their Roots Rock to be, it is a stunning effort that feels passionate and fun. Without looking at the credits, you'd think that almost every track here is a cover version - they sound like authentic well-worn classics played by your favorite bar band on a hot and humid night.  You can almost smell the wood floors and spilt beer!  But lo and hehold, apart from a cover of Jay & The Americans' "Come A Little Bit Closer," these are all Los Pacaminos originals!    "Jump Back Baby" is a stunning slice of rootsy Pop with a melody that recalls classic Buddy Holly and even Monte Warden's solo material. Drew Barfield's vocal is goosebump-inducing (fans of The Keys will salivate over this one!). "The Girl From Tennessee," featuring lead vocals from Paul, is a great slice of Tex-Mex fun that is an instant classic - this could be a huge Country hit if radio would give it a chance.  "Caballero" is a heart-breaker with a touching vocal from Barfield. Speaking of heart-breakers, "A Letter To You," with vocals from Paul, is an emotional ballad that by-passes the heart and goes straight for the tear ducts. On most albums these days, the 'high points' would stop there at five songs and the rest would be filler, but not A Fistful Of Statins!  There's so much to love about the album including Jamie Moses and Paul singing "Don't Make Me Wait Senorita," Matt Irving's gruff, lived-in vocals on "Every Little Hero" and "Texas Adios," Jamie's "Battered and Broozed" and his spirited take on the aforementioned "Come A Little Bit Closer," etc.  The whole album is great fun from start to finish!

So, what you have here is neither a facsimile or a tribute to Americana - this is the real deal.  So, who cares if it was created by a bunch of Brits? California trio Green Day have spent their entire career playing British Punk Rock and they did pretty darn well.

(P.S. Stay tuned for my EXCLUSIVE interview with Paul Young coming soon!)

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