Having spent the past five years bringing serious doses of heartfelt, mind-bending, tastefully indulgent melodious joy to New York area concert stages, THE RANDY BANDITS went on record with their unique brand of genuine American music for their first full-length CD, REDBEARD. Produced by revered pop craftsman Richard X. Heyman with Nancy Leigh and Spiff Wiegand and mixed by Kurt Reil of the Gripweeds, REDBEARD combines the genre-defying musicality of The Band, the earthy sincerity of Wilco and The Jayhawks, and the quirky pop smarts of Ben Folds Five and Guster for a welcome respite from the irony, detachment and jadedness found in much of today's new music. REDBEARD encapsulates THE RANDY BANDITS' quest to put out new music in an entertaining way, to captivate fans (a.k.a. Fandits) with sincerity as well as lunacy, and to do something meaningful in a culture and business currently deluged with artifice and irony. The songs on REDBEARD swing from Rock to Country to Bluegrass to Jazz to Soul to Blues to Gospel with lots of hybrids, a jillion instruments traded amongst the musicians, and soaring vocal harmonies. The band's lyrics reflect the sensibility of their leader, award-winning playwright-turned-songwriter Jim Knable ("Spain"), who sings, plays acoustic guitar and sax, and is joined in THE RANDY BANDITS by Russ Kaplan (keyboards, vocals), Stephen Aleman (vocals, percussion), Spiff Wiegand (vocals, trumpet, mandolin, electric guitar, accordion and more), Chris Murphy (bass, vocals, electric guitar) and Sunny Knable (drums). 'We're sincere musical adventurers who believe in connecting to our audience with fun, humor and humanity," says Knable. "We're not ironic. We're not about pop culture trendiness. We're about making really lasting music." REVIEWS: 'Perhaps it's time to clear up a common misconception. Just because we don't hear a lot of pure pop on the radio these days, doesn't mean there aren't artists out there that are making it. Unfortunately, it seems that modern radio has lost it's taste for the groups that populated the airwaves back in the '60s and '70s and that somehow good melodies and strong singing aren't worth what they used to be. The Randy Bandits could change all that. The Brooklyn-based band's first full-length opus, Redbeard, boasts the type of sound that represented pop used to be about - strong singing, terrific harmonies and melodies that didn't pay particular allegiance to one genre or another but rather embraced them all, from rock to country to R&B to anything falling in-between. Singer Jim Knable, the group's apparent mastermind, boasts one of those appealing, clearly resonating voices that allows him to feel equally at home in any of several styles, from the down home delivery of "Sally Ann" to the soulful confession of "Just a Man" to the jaunty jig "People Change." One imagines they would make a terrific show band, thanks to their apparent emphasis of delivering a good tune and making an earnest impression. Redbeard was produced by another rock wunderkind, Richard X Heyman along with his wife Nancy Leigh and fellow co-conspirator Spiff Wiegand. One can't help escape the impression that this team had a point to prove - namely, that good music and a pure devotion to upbeat, enjoyable music isn't a lost art, simply one that's lapsed into repose.' Lee Zimmerman Entertainment News and Views (Miami) 'Though the band seems all-American in it's origins, the Randy Bandits seem like the offspring of a one-night stand between Canadian bands Moxy Fruvous and the Barenaked Ladies. Since the former are inactive and the latter have seemingly passed their peak, there's a niche to be filled in the whimsy rock line. Where the Bandits surpass their progenitors is in their musical versatility and playfulness - taking a page from The Band (another group with Canadian genes), each member is a multi-instrumentalist, and each song has some musical surprise in it - an unexpected banjo here, a sax running in from left field there. They also harmonize as cleanly as anyone on the scene today... The Bandits' songs convey the sense of loose, all for one, one for all fun that the aforementioned bands were so good at conjuring in their early days (The Band included, not so much in subject matter but in their ramshackle blend of voices)... The Band-ish "My Sweet Time" at first seems to be an ode to nihilism before an epiphanic turn to the open road. "Sally Ann" is tuneful. "Afterglow" might be the first honeymoon song to capture the feeling of satiation, elation, and triumph on the morning after the wedding... "People Change" is a pleasing digression into klezmer territory. The melody and arrangement of "Just a Man"... is pleasant to listen to. "Catalyst" is jaunty, graced by a complimentary flute... you'll find yourself humming along. For a freshman effort, "Redbeard" is spectacularly polished and knowing. If this is the Randy Bandit's Triple-A effort, the projections for major league success with further maturation look good.' Steven Goldman The Pinstriped Blog.
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