Everybody has guilty pleasures with their music consumption. Maybe you spin a few Hannah Montana records for old times sake. Or reminisce with a number from the good ol’ Yu-Gi-Oh soundtrack. It’s different for everybody. But for me, I always end up coming back to Adelitas Way.
My relationship with this decidedly average “New School” Rock band cut from the same cloth as Shinedown and Nickelback began by chance and if I heard them for the first time today, I probably wouldn’t give a damn about them. But I didn’t just hear them today; I found them when they had just released their self-titled debut in 2009 which was right around the time I was just getting into music. They were starting their musical careers and I was starting my new life as a music consumer, so we fit together perfectly. And anytime my master Burnes Turns soundtrack of over 2,000 songs (for now, at least) shuffles to one of the 11 tracks that makes up this sweet little 40-minute LP, it fills me with a sense of nostalgia and glee.
Objectively, there’s not much going on with Adelitas Way in the lyrical department. Rick DeJesus has a fine enough voice (especially for his role; he can generate some nice power in a mid-range register that is difficult to replicate), but a quick gander at a lyric sheet from any of the songs on this album suggest that he is far from Bob Dylan. But what is great about Adelitas Way is their sonic delivery. All of the parts compliment each other extremely well for a debut album especially when there was tension in the band at the time; Chris Iorio, the great lead guitarist on this album, left the band shortly after its release. All of the tracks, from the egotistical stomp of “Invincible” to the Velvet Revolver-esque guitar swagger of “Just a Little Bit” suggests that producers Johnny K. and Brian Howes were more than getting their money’s worth and that Adelitas Way was destined to be more than just a one-hit wonder. They later graduated to a more commercialized sound on Home School Valedictorian (2011) and especially on Stuck (2014) to mixed results, but I’ll always have a soft spot for their original effort, which is the most unique of their releases. It’s a shame that they never followed up on the sound they created with this album’s excellent closer “Brother” with its piano-led sentimentality (and featuring one hell of a solo from Iorio and one of my favorites of all time); it’s their best song by far and a great reminder that excellent songs can emerge when you least expect it.