On Sunday night, Cambridge-based Banditas played an opening set at the Great Scott. Banditas has a minimalist sound: they have two instruments and two singers, that’s really all they need.
Drummer Dave Cave (cool name that rhymes — I’m already sold) doesn’t even have toms. His drum set and beats are kept to just the essentials, mostly revolving around punchy bass and snare and sometimes tambourine for good measure. Singer/guitarist Hayley Thompson-King also uses her guitar very modestly, mostly for power chords and some open chords. The undecorated guitar buzzed warmly through an old tube amp.
The music of Banditas is twangy simplicity. It’s hazy garage rock, hidden behind a veil of cigarette smoke in the back of an Atlanta bar. The real magic to the band is the harmonies of Haley and other singer Molly Maltezos, combining to create the forceful haunting of a woman scorned. The scorn isn’t just for effect, either; the girls sing of bastardly men and deep personal depression. The line “I’ll carry this weight like a drug mule, boy I’ll take what you got, nothing from nothing,” from their song “Cat In Your Tree” was particularly striking. They are reminiscent of Nancy Sinatra in “I shot my baby down” — just shoot Nancy forward a number of years and drag her through some bayous (sorry Nancy). The girls are local, so I’m not sure where the Southern vibe is coming from, but they work it. The twang helps the delivery of their sad songs in a “hey it’s sorta okay’ country radio way. Besides, the Killers sounded British when they first came out, and they’re from Las Vegas, but they managed to make a name for themselves.
The only qualm I have with the band is their horrifically laid-out myspace, so avoid hunting for information there and just check out Banditas at the Enormous Room in Cambridge on Oct. 30th.