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Loud Is the Night

Hacienda

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Album Review

Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys once described the Austin, TX quartet Hacienda as "Mexican-Americans who are obsessed with the Beach Boys," and while that's an oversimplification, it isn't far off from the mark. Auerbach produced and plays on Hacienda's debut album, Loud Is the Night, and while the guys are clearly enamored of middle-period Beach Boys stuff (think Wild Honey through Holland), there are plenty of other obvious touchstones in their sound — the Beatles (dig that "Dig a Pony" guitar figure in "Useless and Tired" and the Rubber Soul/Revolver-era melodies scattered throughout), the Rolling Stones in their quiet moods ("Wishbone" suggests a pocket-sized version of "Moonlight Mile"), 1960s and early-'70s studio pop (with scaled-back flashes of Phil Spector and Jack Nitzsche's production styles clearly audible, and a hint of the Turtles in "Angela" and "Officer") and even Sonny Bono (there's a surprisingly faithful cover of the Sonny & Cher hit "Baby Don't Go"). As with most bands who wear their influences on their sleeves, the real question here is if Hacienda can bring anything new to the picture, and thankfully Loud Is the Night leaves no doubt that this band knows how to write songs in the classic style and give them shape in the studio with a precocious grace. Brothers Abraham Villanueva (piano and vocals), Jaime Villanueva (drums and vocals), and Rene Villanueva (bass and vocals) and their cousin Dante Schwebel (guitar and vocals) conjure up a remarkably full and eclectic sound in the studio, and if their harmonies aren't quite up to the level of the Wilson siblings, they bring a warm, rootsy edge to the music that adds a distinct and welcome Southwest flavor. Hacienda may be in love with vintage sunshine pop, but Loud Is the Night shows they can give the sound a welcome shot of soul while staying true to its melodic roots, and this is a strikingly accomplished debut (especially when you consider that it was recorded in a mere two weekends).

Loud Is the Night, Hacienda
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