Make mine a breakfast burrito with extra chilli
Mexican Hillbilly Surf Music - The Mezcaltones (Foghorn/MGM)
For most Australians, Tex Mex music is like Mexican food: Only a handful of us have experienced the real thing. So props to Sydney band The Mezcacltones for cooking up their home-grown variant of the former, and dubbing it “Mexican Hillbilly Surf”.
The twang is the thang as far the sound of this six-piece goes. It’s all over their music. Their brand is country - with some trimmings - and the delivery is slick without being overly so. It’s commercial enough for The Mezcaltones to have played the Tamworth Festival five times.
This is the third album for The Mezcaltones. You get nine songs - half-a-dozen originals and three covers. Their cruise-y vision of “Six Days on the Road” is an obvious live crowd-pleaser, while the Los Lobos influence is apparent in their ripping version of that band’s “Don’t Worry Baby”, which is the strongest song here.
A band best seen live, they bring a theatrical schtick to their shows with a dancing percussionist gal, cowpoke and a Tequila-with-the-worm-in-the-bottle vibe. Singer Col Padre has great stage presence and it translates well to tape (or hard drive).
It’s an instrumental, though, that sets up the record: “Hillbilly Surf Rage” is a bone-rattler with a whiff of spaghetti western cheese rather than the smelly old swamp.
Guitarists El Change and Neralita are on top of their game on the record - especially on the lick-swapping of “Motorcycle Girl” and chunky surf instrumental “Shango and Surfwaxxx”. Most of the songs are succinct. The longest track is the last, “Make Ends Meet”, and it’s the closest thing to straight-up rock and roll.
Production was at Damien Gerard and it’s clean and lean. “Mexican Hillbilly Surf Music” covers some extensive musical territory and ultimately makes down tot he beach, padding out of the shore-dump to reach the sets at the back.