The simple pleasures of Banditas

Easy rider
By JONATHAN DONALDSON  |  September 12, 2012

AROUND THE CAMPFIRE "I'm really vulnerable and sensitive, which all of my bandmates will tell you from all my various bands," says Banditas singer/guitarist Hayley Thompson-King (center) with Candace Clement (left) and Molly Maltezos. 

Simplicity is not always easy, but sometimes it's the surest path to style and clarity, especially when we're talking about three girls, three instruments, three singers, loads of reverb, no solos, basic blues beats, high-and-lonesome harmonies, and killer songs dying for a smoke. On Save the Rats, the debut album from Boston trio Banditas, garage-rock simplicity is done right. And with the homespun, spirit-driven country and girl-group harmonies that are coming out of these hollows, I'm not sure what could be wrong with this picture at all. In fact, the only thing that might be wrong is that it will not be legally possible to smoke cigarettes in the basement of the Cantab Lounge during Banditas record release party next Saturday night. Got a light?

No one is more fired up about the release of this record than Banditas songwriter/guitarist Hayley Thompson-King herself, who was as effervescent as her fizzy lemonade when telling me about her songs and the vision she shares with bassist Molly Maltezos and drummer Candace Clement (also of Northampton's Bunny's a Swine). A Viking-blonde Floridian who moved to New York to study opera at NYU in her late teens, Thompson-King has way more optimism and warm fuzzies about the world of rock and roll than you'd expect from someone with her life experience. For years, Thompson-King tended bar at the Middle East, witnessing night after night of the best, worst, and most mediocre that nightlife has to offer. Nevertheless, as she moved further away from her passion in opera (she continued her studies at New England Conservatory), the singer began to sink deeper and deeper into the comfy cushions of rock and roll. Whereas opera was about serving the composer and nailing the performance, Thompson-King (who also sings for Major Stars) found the individual catharsis that she was seeking through Banditas' three-chord hymns to the street. Self-help through better rocking.

"I'm not all that interested in me in my normal life," says Thompson-King, musing on the idea of her stronger, more bad-ass alter-ego that she finds in Banditas's songs. "I'm really vulnerable and sensitive, which all of my bandmates will tell you from all my various bands." Tracks like "Harmony Glass" and "Mine To Lose" take the boy-meets-girl back-porch melodrama of early Everly Brothers songs (like "Bird Dog" and "When Will I Be Loved") and gives the genders a spin: good girls worry about what their bad boys are doing while planning violent revenge against men-stealing women. These songs aren't necessarily all about individual melodramas, though. "Virginia" highlights how the Banditas ladies' voices twine together as one and intersect ("cross-voicing," jokes Thompson-King) in some sort of twilight, street-corner Alan Lomax affair. "When I'm with Banditas, I like it when we all kind of stand in a line and there's no one of us. People ask, 'Who is the lead singer?', and I say, 'All of us.' "

1  |  2  |   next >
Related: New music for Boston's winter of discontent, For Coyote Kolb, the roots come together, Cloud Nothings | Attack on Memory, More more >
  Topics: Music Features , Boston, Music, Arts,  More more >
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   THE UNIFIED MELODY OF SLOWDIM  |  March 20, 2013
    Slowdim drink wine with pizza. It's true. I was there.
  •   THE MARY ONETTES | HIT THE WAVES  |  March 13, 2013
    Hit the Waves is so heartfelt as a pastiche of '80s alternative music that it almost muscles its way into being brilliant.
  •   THE MODERN RETRO OF JESSE DEE  |  March 05, 2013
    On his new record On My Mind/In My Heart , the question is not if Jesse Dee can step up to the challenge of making authentic soul and R&B music in 2013, but rather how he goes about it.
  •   TAME IMPALA’S NEW SURROUND SOUND  |  March 08, 2013
    Whether it's Bradford Cox with Deerhunter, or Dan Snaith with Caribou, or Kevin Parker with Tame Impala, there must be something with this trend in sonic auteurs with cervine band names.
    "It seems like a challenge to make something that you have to pay a lot of attention to," says Josh Dibbs.

 See all articles by: JONATHAN DONALDSON