LOS SANTOS - VAYA CON DIOS
Los Santos - Vaya Con Dios Released September 29th 2022 Reviewed by Kate, 1st December 2022 Los Santos are: Stefan Hiss - vocals, accordion, organ Bernd Öhlenschläger - drums Joscha Brettschneider - electric guitars Lucia Schlör - vocals Ines Martinez - vocals on Yo Canto We all have our guilty pleasures, be it cheering for a stomping celebrity on Strictly or eating cereal for dinner. Mine is ‘bands who play Spanish sounding music but aren’t actually from Spain’: Hola Ghost, Mariachi El Bronx, Nick 13 casting his Lovespell…I love it all. So when the ‘apocalypso’ of Stuttgart natives Los Santos hit my inbox, I knew I’d love every minute of ‘Via Con Dios’. ‘They surfed the waves of Hawaii and the Río Grande, they crossed the Pacific Ocean and the Prairie, they sang of the West and the wild lands south of the border. No range, no river, no ravine could stop them. Now our planet has become too small and the time has come to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations. Many lightyears from Texas Los Santos encounter music no man has heard before: surf from Saturn, twangy guitars from Titan, accordions from Aldebaran and rhythms from Regulus no human has ever boogied to.’ Who could resist with a bio like that? On this seventh outing, expect cowboys on the range, rockabilly robots and retro stylings straight out of Diamond City Radio from Fallout 4. It’s tremendous, strange and utterly addictive. Saddle up and put on your space suits… Vaya Con Dios: Ska beats and accordions underpin my favourite track on the album. Stefan’s voice has that early sixties crooning harshness in the style of Sheldon Allman. Shrieking organ and atomic echoes make this the best tale of a Bandido on the lonesome range in space you’ve ever heard. Yesterday’s Gone: Lucia takes over on vocals in this Nancy Sinatra style groovy number. It’s a fun track that’s really authentic in its sound, and there’s a little bit more room given to the guitar and organ to drift and play under those crisp vocals. Robot Cowgirl: This a song which matches the title exactly. It’s about a cowgirl. Who is a robot. “Ride on, Robot Cowgirl!” Stefan and Lucia duet sweetly, and it’s this wonderfully vintage comic take with accordions to spare which make this record so appealing. Plus, of course, bonus points for the use of the term ‘Buckaroo’, which seems to be only used by Chuck Tingle in this century. Cumbia Del Robot: If you don’t already know, Cumbia is a traditional style of folk music from Colombia, and this is the track Manu Chao would write if he was kidnapped by aliens. I can’t comment much on the lyrics….but I am slightly in love with the Daft Punk-style robot sample saying ‘Me gusta Colombia’ and Joscha’s seriously hot guitar work. Lonely Moon: I’m getting shades of Howlin Pele Almqvist on the vocals, but it’s so darn silky and slightly spooky that it’s more than my comparison implies. The rhythm bops along with the organ rolling gently though. A lovely track. Atomic Cocktail: I’ve mentioned Fallout already, but if Bethesda ever finish the next game in the series they need to approach Los Santos to use both this and Cha-Cha Till You Die on the soundtrack. A celebration of a drink that tastes good if you’re ‘as small as a beetle or as big as a whale’, and it’s loungey without being too relaxing. Yo Canto (‘I Sing’): Bluesy, Santana guitar on this soulful number. It’s dancey and smoochy and overall a lot of fun. Cha-Cha Till You Die: Like fiddling while Rome burns, sometimes you just need a song about dancing in the face of an impending apocalypse. My second favourite song, and wonderfully grim lyrics over a jolly tune are a fantastic combination. I have a feeling that it’s written in a cha-cha rhythm, and there’s something compelling about the mix of doom and optimism. Diddy Wah Diddy: Nothing to do with Manfred Mann, this is a blues number about a place which ‘aint no town and aint no city’. The bass and guitar are thrown at you like a tetherball and the organ works so very well here. Quien Sera / Sway: Closer to the original 1953 recording in Spanish than Dean Martin’s, this is a haunting end to the album. It’s like the one record still playing after the atomic bombs hit, or the lonely sculpture playing Toto’s Africa in the desert for all eternity. Half in English and half in Spanish, this is strange and elegant and wonderful. ‘In strange worlds where time travel is part of everyday life, where a lonely moon rises above prairie planets, where robots herd the cattle and sing around the campfire, new songs, new sounds and new rhythms beckon.’ This is how Los Santos describe their records and they are absolutely accurate. It’s a strange and beguiling album, vintage and modern, in this world and out of it, transcending language barriers and definitions of what it means to be a cowboy. It’s the album to listen to while the world ends, but even if we as a civilisation make it to 2023, you should absolutely listen anyway!