For today's musical physics lesson, we have an example of the whole being far less than the sum of the parts. The eponymous Hermanos de la Hacienda are two (usually) highly charged atomic particles: border and roots music raconteur and Dave Alvin sidekick Chris Gaffney and Dave Gonzalez of the Paladins, which over the past 20 years has proved to be one of the most reliably rocking beer bands in the land. Add to the formula Dan Penn, who produced ten of the 14 tracks here and is probably the greatest old-school R&B songwriter and purveyor alive today. One plus one plus one equals three times the pleasure, right? Sadly, no; somehow it all adds up to snooze-o-rama. Best example of that is their take on Mel Tillis's "Mental Revenge," where lyrics like "I hope that a train from Caribou, Maine, runs over your new love affair" beg for a snarl rather than the yawn the song is delivered with here. The classic country sounds like it was cut on Quaaludes rather than the bennies that everyone gobbled like M&Ms in those days. And even though Gaffney has proved himself wittily soulful in the past, he makes the Penn & Gonzalez co-write "Lookin' for Loneliness" sound downright depressing. The best moments here, sad to report, are the instrumentals: the Ventures-meets-Buckaroos workout of "Railed" and the "Sleepwalk" marries "Ghost Riders in the Sky" of "Saguaro." On the whole, a better name for this lifeless union would be the Siesta Brothers.
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