(Ghost Highway Recordings)
It is hard to believe the ignorance a person exhibits when the words “rock n’ roll is dead” rolls off their tongue. Clearly, you know better otherwise you wouldn’t be reading the link, that’s a fact. Even with how tragic 2016 was for the heavy rock community (hell, to music in general); it won’t do anything to keep the torch from being passed. Barrio Tiger, the raucous quartet from Los Angeles are one of the torch carriers in their own right and have released their debut effort Ave Maria on the Ghost Highway Recordings imprint after years of traversing the seediest dives and festival circuits of California and beyond. Known throughout the Los Angeles underground rock scene and described by Los Angeles Times as being a punk band that “adheres to the brash, short and dirty side of the genre, and is known for its particularly incendiary live sets”, this may be the first time you’ve heard of these cats, better late than never.
Ave Maria enticed the excited and amped feeling I first got when I heard The Hellacopter’s Payin’ The Dues for the first time. Ten tracks rooted in punk, garage, power pop and country punk ala Supersuckers with song writing that is both adrenaline jacking and sincere. Dual guitarists Calixto Hernandez and Jimmy James are dialed in with pummeling chord progressions that are both gut punching and melodic in feel and their rhythm and battery keep the shake and groove in check with Pete Lyman on bass and Mark Benquechea on the kit. With a resurgence of bands in their world attempting to go the nostalgic route of rehashing the tones of the late 60’s Detroit and 70’s New York rock eras, Barrio Tiger doesn’t follow the trend at all and goes their own route. Ave Maria’s tempo is all over the place with high-octane cuts like “Pete’s Dragon”, “Play Dumb”, “Enough” and “Bullet” but eases up a bit with the mellow and melodic “Fading” and “Born Ready”, something comforting to hear at the bar during your comedown on a late Sunday afternoon.
The artwork of Tiger Maria is both ironic and funny as well, courtesy of an idea that Jimmy had and brought to life through San Diego based artist’s Dan Kopton and Mary Sheridan.
No filter to these guys at all, Ave Maria’s the real deal. To give you an idea, if John Sinclair was still alive, Los Angeles based and involved in music, chances are he would probably get behind the noise they make, just leaving the politics out of it this time.