Review: ‘El Bueno y El Malo’ by Hermanos Gutiérrez

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When describing their music, Hermanos Gutiérrez make reference to Spaghetti Westerns, Lynch and Morricone, and scenic road trips when describing their music. The brother duo explains that they “travel through landscapes haunted by vaqueros, cancioneros, wanderers, fugitives, lovers, family—and whatever ghosts their listeners bring to the music.”

It’s true: Their music is all of that. And wonderfully, the duo’s music, like everything else about them, is multifaceted, going much deeper than the twang of a steel guitar.

Their new album, El Bueno y El Malo, stirs a paradox alluding to each brother’s individuality and unique perspective, not only as a musician fostering his own style but also as brothers engaging in this new experience. The duo hadn’t played together long when their music began streaming everywhere during the early days of the pandemic. 

On their new album, they’ve enriched their normally guitar-based music with the addition of strings, congas, drums, and castanets. But, they explain, “the additions are more than subtle; they’re subliminal. They focus their attention on the two main figures and the intricate, almost telepathic interplay of their instruments.”

A journey through the album is soft and rugged, where rhythm meets melody, sunset leads to sunlight, and el bueno y el malo—the good and the bad—appear. Hermanos Gutiérrez believes we are all capable of being both.

“The title of the album is, of course, a reference to Sergio Leone’s legendary 1966 Spaghetti Western The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly and especially its score by Ennio Morricone,” Estevan explains. “But the phrase has a deeper meaning. We think that everybody has a good side and a bad side. It’s every person, every moment, every situation. Everybody has these two faces. It’s not a cynical idea, but one that celebrates the depths and dualities of humanity, and music—even music that does not include vocals or lyrics—-is the perfect vehicle to explore such big ideas.”

Their music reflects that, being both somber and hopeful, brooding with melancholy yet also provocative and bright. As a result of its cinematic sound and atmosphere, Hermanos Gutiérrez’s music also evokes introspection because their sound is immense and you find yourself alone with… you. There are no words to focus on, no lyrics to guide your thoughts, nothing to distract you from yourself.

This seemingly infinite space allows for self-reflection. (Scary, ain’t it?)

There is much to contemplate in El Bueno y El Malo, and every listener will have a unique experience on this sonic journey.

Their latest video is for “Tres Hermanos,” a track that attempts to make a connection with the pair’s cultural heritage and that special feeling of time spent with family and community. Recorded in Nashville, it is also the first single to include a guest player, “third brother” Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys.

The album is available on all major platforms and is released by Easy Eye Sound. The duo is currently on tour in the U.S.

For more, visit Hermanos Gutiérrez’s website.

 

Featured image by Larry Niehues

Sandra Treviño is a music journalist, DJ and radio host living in Chicago. Listen to her on the radio Friday afternoons on 91.1FM Vocalo and every second and fourth Monday at 6 PM CST on 105.5FM Lumpen Radio. she is also one half of the female selecta duo The Ponderers. #futurerootz #theponderers #djangelfuk

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