Just discovered a new band that I like, and, no, I'm not just saying that they're badass because they hail straight outta San Antonio, but that's pretty cool too, you know, the fact that they know what a puffy taco tastes like. But no, these guys are the real thing.
Hacienda they're called, and they just released their debut album, Loud Is the Night, on Alive Records. Brothers Abraham, Rene and Jaime Villanueva -- along with their cousin Dante Schwebel from Laredo -- play this mesmerizing, retro, lo-fi sound, and claim both the Beach Boys and The Band as influences. Other critics have thrown around "sounds like" names such as 60s era Sir Douglas Quintet, the Beatles, etc etc, and they all make sense, but the band's self-assured sound is all their own.
From an article by Jim Beal in today's San Antonio Express News on their how they started:
"It was in 2004, and White Rabbit [local SA club] said they needed a local band, a local band that wasn't a heavy metal band, to open for the Australian band Augie March. Also, they wanted a band that would play for free, and that was us," Abraham said. Hacienda asked Augie March for advice. The Aussies told the local boys to go into a studio and find their sound.
"So we put live performing on the back burner," Schwebel said.
"We went to our house, set up a studio and collected instruments," Abraham said. "Our goal was to get something we like to listen to."
"We messed around with synthesizer sounds and space sounds," Schwebel said. "Then we said, 'Abe, you really know how to play piano. Why don't you just play piano?' We were trying to sound like what we assumed people like. Everybody sat behind the drums and tried them out, but Jaime could play them."
"I played guitar, but Dante was a better guitar player so I picked up the bass," Rene said. "We listened to a lot of records and talked about what we liked. We did a lot of research. We were learning."
The members of Hacienda grew up together. By the time they were in high school they were listening to music together. Abraham Villanueva started out playing classical music then jumped to Ray Charles, the Beach Boys, the Beatles, Booker T. and the MGs and the Band. Schwebel digs the Bakersfield country sound. Rene Villanueva is into Sam Cooke and James Jamerson and Paul McCartney on the bass side.
"We had to try to figure out how to make what everyone was into work for the band," Schwebel said. "How do you sound like yourself? It's not easy to do."
"What we have works for us," Abraham said. "Really straightforward works for us."
And how. A demo they recorded found its way into the hands of Dan Auerbach from the Black Keys. Soon the band was in Auerbach's hometown of Akron, Ohio recording what would become the new album. Hacienda's on tour right now opening for Dr. Dog. Tonight they play Long Beach, but be sure and check out their MySpace for future dates. Highly recommended. For an Austin Chronicle interview with Abraham where the songwriter talks about The Band's influence on Hacienda go here. For a compendium of critical raves go here. And I'll leave you with this YouTube clip...