“Shakedown,” Hacienda (Collective Sounds)
It’s hard to know who gets how much credit for Hacienda’s new “Shakedown.” The San Antonio, Texas, group was the backing band for the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach on his 2009 solo tour, and Auerbach produced “Shakedown.”
Auerbach, a prolific and talented producer, likely wanted to give his all for his former backing band. At the same time, he wouldn’t have picked a slouch group to support him in the first place.
Regardless of whether Auerbach is Hacienda’s Svengali or if he just polished the act’s sound, “Shakedown” is powerful.
The group was founded by cousins Abraham Villanueva (keyboards/vocals) and Dante Schwebel (guitar/vocals), and Villanueva’s brothers — Jamie (drums/vocals) and Rene (bass/vocals) — were eventually added to the lineup. Perhaps thanks to their shared genetics, the four men have great chemistry as they plow down the offbeat, rousing tracks of “Shakedown.”
Opener “Veronica” is a haggard “come on home” grinder with taunting guitars and harmonious backing vocals that step up to “oh-la-las” on the subsequent chugger “Let Me Go,” a slapping, semi-rockabilly throwback keyed to the refrain “Let me go, let me go.”
Other spirited standouts include a jangling “Don’t Turn” that infects with raspy, yearning romance; a “Don’t Keep Me Waiting” that features a chunky, propulsive, rhythm and sass (“Baby, don’t keep me waiting ... I ain’t waitin’ too long”); and the spacey, humming single “Savage.”
Unfortunately, Hacienda’s creativity goes on a bit of a hiatus late in its “Shakedown,” and the group’s experimentation sounds like lackluster approximations of other genres — jam bands (“Natural Life”), classic rock (“Doomsday”) and psychedelia (“Pilot in the Sky”).
Maybe the group ran out of time in the studio or Auerbach ran out of time to produce.
At least Hacienda had built so much momentum to that point that the house doesn’t fall to shambles when “Shakedown” gets shaky.
Rating (five possible): 4