Los Hooligans rampage through music's back pages, pillaging from the past, then in best Visigoth tradition, use their plunder very much for their own end. But jokes aside, the Californians' suave and sophisticated sound is far removed from the vandalization their name implies.
Their debut album, Tradition, is precisely that, a journey back through time to the big band age, when musicianship was paramount, arrangements complex, and jazz reigned supreme. However, as their Spanglish name implies, the group are as taken with Latin stylings as they are with swing, bringing the two together in glorious communion, powered down the aisle by the upbeat tempo and syncopated rhythms of ska. If this sounds more than reminiscent of the Skatalites, you'd be wrong. In fact, the band's smooth, clean sound has much more in common with Byron Lee & the Dragonaires than with the more abandoned styling the Skatalites were so exuberantly unleashing. Thus across a handful of excellent covers and a plethora of their own exceptional compositions, los Hooligans bop, swing, skank, mambo, rumba and roll. Interspersing debonair vocal tracks with swaggering instrumentals, the band continuously showcase their diversity and phenomenal musicianship. The brass section is absolutely awesome, but then so is the rhythm section, which boasts an upright bass. As there's no piano, keyboard or organ, guitarist Gary Gerloff alone handles both the riffs and solos when the brass take a break, and does so with aplomb. A stellar debut from some of the best musicians currently to be found on the American third wave scene.