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WELCOME TO THE HOTEL DE LA MUERTE
Released October 2009
The gestation of the new Gypsy Pistoleros mini album ‘Welcome To The Hotel de la Muerte” (“Welcome to the Hotel of the Dead”) has been a turbulent one, with the original sessions scrapped and release dates rescheduled, all playing out against the backdrop of the band’s high profile appearance at Rocklahoma in July 2009, sponsorship by video game WET and new record deals with Chavis Records in America.
Finally holding the CD in my hands, I can recognise what all the fuss was about – Welcome… represents a formidable step up for The Pistoleros, the world’s foremost “flamenco sleaze glam band”.
For starters, the album sounds fantastic, courtesy of the legendary Joe Gibb (Catatonia, Funeral For A Friend, The Kinks, Janes Addiction, and many more). The band are playing better than ever, and it’s hard to tell if Gibb has been the primary catalyst for their new-found clarity of vision and focus, or whether it’s the new stability in the ranks – Denny and Jet Pistolero joined on drums and bass respectively in June 2009, and provide a punchy bedrock to the songs that the band have lacked in the past – that we have to thank.
The album kicks off with the title track, Lee J Pistolero’s lyrics referencing The Eagles’ Hotel California while the song tumbles down the stairs like Guns n’ Roses and Hanoi Rocks jamming after a tequila fuelled lost weekend. Kris Jones’ mariachi trumpet is a great touch.
Living Down With The Gypsies is perhaps the truest song on offer to Lee’s punk roots, and sees his trademark vocal flourishes paying off (“lilo-lilo-lee-lilo” and Latin yelps abound), while Iggie gives us a killer wah-wah pumped riff.
Sangre De Las Rosas (“Blood of the Roses”) is a string drenched, eight and a half minute long epic as delicate as crystal and as ballsy as the local chapter of the Hells Angels, if The Angels were playing at a Mexican wedding and getting paid in tequila, cocaine and love. This is fantastic stuff and the production on this track alone makes it worth the price of admission, with gritty Mexican dust and magic oozing from every pore. The rumour is that this song will be released as a single later in the year, with Joe Leste of Bang Tango and Beautiful Creatures duetting with Lee.
The album is rounded out with a Pistolero flavoured run through a cover of the legendary Mexican rhumba band Los Chicas’ Sons Illusiones (“Are Illusions”), as tight and punchy and enjoyable as a Fight Club basement brawl.
With only 5 songs on Welcome… it clocks in at just under half an hour, following the old stage adage to always leave ‘em wanting more. Iggie Pistolero has captured a fabulous guitar sound on this album, managing to sound heavy and distorted one minute, and fragile and beautiful the next.
If their 2007 debut Wild, Beautiful, Damned (and its 2008 remixed re-release Para Siempre) were an exciting introduction to the band, Welcome To The Hotel De La Muerte is leaps and bounds ahead - a dynamic and unique statement of intent from a band that are legitimately doing something completely original and exciting.