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Big Red & Barbacoa

Big Red & Barbacoa
Composer: Hacienda
Label: Alive Records
Release Date: 2010-03-31
Rated: NONE
Media: CD
Length: LP
Format: Album
Genre: Recording

Like the classic combo it’s named after, Hacienda’s latest album is a hunk of comfort food, golden-age rock ’n’ roll delivered with no irony and only minimal modern embellishment: Think a roadside stand where the real-deal cabeza de vaca’s been slow cooking less than 10 feet away from the kitchen door, not Chipotle’s renamed brisket in a rock ’n’ roll burrito wrapper. Unlike that time-honored titular heartstopper, however, Hacienda’s 36-minute Barbacoa has had all its fat trimmed away, and is even better for it. “Who’s Heart Are You Breaking Now” luxuriates in its low end in a way that’s probably only possible post-drum-’n’-bass, but otherwise it could be a rough-cut, but forward-thinking Everly Brothers demo. “You’re My Girl,” a cover of one actual such Everly Brothers song, emphasizes the drone over the romantic macho swagger and caps off in a garage-y guitar solo and spook-show organ. “I Keep Waiting” and “Hound Dog,” on the other hand, envision an alternate musical history in which the results of Brian Wilson’s musical experimentation didn’t rip the Beach Boys into factions or cause them to lose the immediacy of their earliest hits. The percussion in “Prisoner” falls somewhere between steam-punk industrial and “Jack and Diane,” but the spiraling vocal harmonies make it the album’s most modern-sounding track. Between these songs are several instrumental surf-rock interludes, authentic enough to wind up on a Quentin Tarantino soundtrack someday. The album’s best tracks — “Younger Days,” “Apples,” “As You Like It” — reassemble all these elements in a way that’s instantly familiar but would nearly stick out like Auto Tuned crunk on a Nuggets comp. The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach takes production and engineering credit here, but he’s smart enough to keep any embellishments so low-key he seems like a nonentity, maintaining the illusion of a really excellent four-track recorded live in the studio. Skilled, studied rock revivalists like Hacienda make it increasingly harder to distinguish “old-fashioned” from “timeless,” but some things taste too good to tamper with. — Jeremy Martin

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