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Hacienda’s New Album Full of Lively Flavor Print E-mail
Friday, 02 July 2010
In the episode entitled “Gail’s Bridal Shower” during the fifth season of Top Chef, the contestants were given a Quickfire Challenge that involved being taken to a dark kitchen and tasting a specific sauce. After each contestant tasted the sauce, they then placed bids indicating how many ingredients they believe they could identify in the particular sauce.

"Big Red & Barbacoa"
(Alive Records)
Released April 6, 2010

Having that particular ability, the ability to dissect something like a recipe on taste alone, seems like a very difficult thing. It seems even more difficult when you know that almost all recipes have subtle nuances based on the creator’s backgrounds and influences. Music is no different. Musicians have their own sets of influences, sometimes they’re completely at the forefront of their music and other times, they lie subtly in arrangement or lyricism.

Hacienda is a family affair band by accident. Cousins Dante Schwebel and Abraham Villanueva began playing music together but could never form a full band until Abraham’s brothers, Jaime and Rene, joined. From that point on, music just fell into place.

Hacienda now has a follow up to their “Loud Is The Night” album. “Big Red & Barbacoa,” the upcoming album by the Texas bred band, plays out like a culinary experiment. The album is an amalgamation of influences; it’s a nearly seamless, well-crafted disc. It provides itself with a structure and progression that is seldom found anymore. The album almost tells a story, not necessarily through lyricism, but a story rooted in harmonies and arrangements; this could be the effect of Dan Auerbach—guitarist from The Black Keys—producing this disc.

The most appealing aspect of the album is that it maintains a firm grasp of nostalgia, something that Hacienda has almost perfected. Similar to the tasting competition on Top Chef, listening to “Big Red & Barbacoa” was like an exercise in guessing influences and sounds. There are a few times in the disc where the line between being inspired by the Beatles and the Beach Boys is blurred with downright Texan lazy-rock-funk grooves. Songs like “Who’s Heart Are You Breaking,” “I Keep Waiting” and “Apples” trudge along at snail paces, picture “Pet Sounds” around 10 beats per minute slower.

Meanwhile songs like “You’re My Girl,” “As You Like It” and “Mama’s Cooking” swing back and forth in rhythms reminiscent of the Beatles, but with a whiskey or tequilla soaked twang. With songs like “Prisoner” and “Barbacoa,” Hacienda blends plain old rock n’ roll with mid-tempo R&B that is only a few steps from being outright mid-tempo funk. Hacienda, with the help of Auerbach, has twiddled and tweaked a tired recipe of what rock music is. They have added elements of R&B, funk, mid-70s near-stoner rock and a little bit of regional Tex-Mex to create something uniquely their own.

Listening to “Big Red & Barbacoa” was a bit like tasting something unfamiliar, but good. The second time was a dissection, an attempt at figuring out what you like and what you don’t, an attempt at breaking it down to its simplest parts. The third was the realization that the disc is as good as you thought the first time. Music really is a lot like cooking, take a few ingredients and string them together the right way and you have an excellent meal. Take a few good musicians—the Villanueva brothers and their cousin Dante Schwebel, pair them with a good producer—Dan Auerbach-- and you have an outstanding record - “Big Red & Barbacoa.”


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