||WILLIE AND THE BANDITS
How best to describe the sound of Wille And The Bandits on 'Breakfree'? Swampy, very, very swampy. The foundation of the band's groove is the blues but with one hell of a dollop of new age surfer roots mixed in. Yet despite being set firmly on the same beach as Xavier Rudd and John Butler, their penchant for new age whimsy is mercifully lacking.
'Breakfree' is the band's third release and is their most varied album yet. Gone is the naivety of debut 'Samsara' and the more immediate bluesy grunt of 'New Breed' has been softened somewhat. Yet despite the occasional dreamy quality the album never loses the hard edged, sun baked, saddle sore and weary groove of a band that is constantly on the road.
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The album has a mix of styles that only the surfer bands seem to be able to get away with, swaying as it does from the new age roots of opener 'Chillout', through the reggae/calypso of 'Power Of A View' and 'Blue Skies' with its nice simple blues picking to the driving roadhouse grunt of 'Get Up' and the grungy 'Plastic Fame'.
'Under The Grove' has a hell of a bluesy laid back feel to it with some nice understated slide work and 'Virgin Eyes' gathers everything up and throws it all together in a nine minute wig out. As well as his lap steel work, Wille's voice has a smoky quality that perfectly complements this kind of surfer blues.
'Breakfree' will not set the world alight and the band is not going to pluck everyone's strings; the production has too much of a DIY quality about it for that and some of the material lacks the immediacy needed to hook in the casual listener. Yet it will certainly do well amongst the new age and surfer crowd and is a step forward that promises great things for the future.
Does it belong here? Yes it does, so before you dismiss the Bandits as just another bunch of hippysurferdude types, 'Breakfree' deserves your ear because despite being quite a mellow album it does have a rich vein of grungy blues running through it and will happily accompany the most zealous Metal heads as they decompress with a few pals, a beer or two and a huge reefer.
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