Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Loud is the Night

It seems that as of late, there are countless artists that are chasing after that throwback sound from the 1960's. Some have got the market cornered on sounding authentic, keeping true to the ways of their forefathers in respect to production and song craft. A handful of these artists do an excellent job and keep the music fresh, while others seem to get bogged down in trying to sound too vintage and sacrifice songwriting and the overall flow of the album. Hailing from south central Texas, Hacienda is one of the very few bands who sound as though they truly could have been transplanted straight from the 60's pop/rock/garage scene, write hooks that you can swear that you've heard before, and deliver some of the best vocal harmonies that hold their own with today's releases and the music from way back when.

What sparked my interest first about Hacienda, before even giving it a listen, was that this album was produced by none other than Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys) and was released on Alive Records, both of which were responsible for two of my favorite albums in 2008, The Black Diamond Heavies and Buffalo Killers. However, the album is nothing like what I expected it to be. Unlike the Heavies and Killers, Loud is the Night is laid back and delicate, full of vintage pop sounds that are indeed groove oriented, but never over-driven or distorted. The album's production sounds as authentic as the songs themselves, leaving everything open and airy, relying heavily on the layers of acoustic instruments and background vocals that are carefully placed far back in the mix, just as it would have been done in 1965. The record is mixed somewhat quiet, bringing the album that low fidelity sound that is a must in achieving what they do. The opening track, "She's Got a Hold on Me", grabs your ear with a stellar fuzz-bass tone that sets things up and is the perfect way to kick things off for Hacienda. Though the album is steeped in Beach Boys style influence throughout, this one gives things a nod to the early Kings of Leon sound with a bit of the power pop feel similar to that of the Velvet Crush. Changing gears, Hacienda follows up with "Angela", that could easily be a long-lost Zombies gem, complete with distant oohs and ahhs that complement that lead vocals. This aspect of the band is, in my opinion, one of their strongest selling points. Of course, being comprised of all brothers and one cousin really brings the tight vocal harmonies to the table, as it is almost always the case that family members sing best together.

This album has been flying under the radar and often, as in my case, gets overshadowed by the other releases from Alive Records that are a bit rowdier. Loud is the Night is anything but loud, and that in itself sets Hacienda apart from other artists that look towards the 60's for influence. They embrace the subtleties of the music rather the raw grit, focusing heavily on the layers of vocal harmonies and complementary instrumental parts, creating a sound that is light and relaxed. A perfect listen and new discovery for those who enjoy rock and pop from the 1960's and those who have embraced the sound of newer artists, such as The Strokes and the Redwalls. -AB
preview some tracks and buy it here

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