"Dreams are Strange is the band’s fifth release, and every Carnivaleros CD is excellent, that much goes without saying, an intoxicating mixture of roots musics of all brands: zydeco, folk, Appalachian, Tex-Mex, swing, and, yep, even waltzes, though Big Louie and the Versailles Court would never recognize the lattermost incarnation here, I’m pretty damn sure. More, each disc is better than what preceded it. That alone should supply the band with ample reason to…cut it the hell out!! This is Earth, we’re allowed only just so much above our station, and then have to shuffle off the coil, so don’t force the envelope! The listener is advised to afterwards listen to The Osmonds, The Archies, or The Bangles as penance for having tasted of Eden and the apple."
- Mark S. Tucker, VERITAS VAMPIRUS, Issue 1,196, April, 2016
"The band keeps a steady rhythm up on drums, bass, banjo, and other strings as The Carnivaleros make their way over “Hesitation Bridge” across thickly woven riffs and rhythms. The beat huffs a gypsy thump to welcome “Mamie Eisenhower” as “Tumacori” drifts on a dry desert breeze while a jazz shuffle dances in “Donna’s Song” and “Time Traveling” coasts on a percussive rumble."
- Danny McCloskey, The Alternate Root, April 21, 2016
“(Dreams Are Strange) adds up to their very own distinctive sound that the band itself has designated as Desert Bayou Music. A CD for the open-minded and curious "
- Max W. Achatz, Country Jukebox, Munich, May 2016
"There are many things I like about The Carnivaleros' latest album, 'Dreams are Strange'. The entire album has an earthy, raw quality with whimsical undertones that are at the core of what makes this such a unique and fun record to listen to. If I were to describe what the record's genre was, I would probably tell a friend: "It's like Accordion fueled carnival folk fusion" as there are so many elements at play. Bluegrass, Folk, New Orleans, all contribute to the uniqueness of the work. Along with the catchy, upbeat songs are very moving and thoughtful numbers like 'Tumacacori' that transport you to the deserts of southern Arizona from where the Carnivaleros hail. Among the many great performances on this record, songwriter, singer and multiple intrumentalist Gary Mackender's performance on accordion effortlessly moves from style to style with a subtle mastery. Nice job, Carnivaleros."
- Alex Flores, Ronstadt Record Company, 2016
"The Tucson, Ariz.-based Carnivaleros have always possessed a knack for unusually interesting arrangements, often combining instruments not normally heard together.
Highlights among the album’s eight vocal numbers are the country-and-Cajun 'Hesitation Bridge'; the incredibly witty title track; the jump zydeco 'Gonna Jump in a Hole'; the upbeat 'Who’s to Say' (which would have been a perfect vehicle for the late Dan Hicks, with its Hot Licks-type chorus); and the hard-luck tale 'Wore Out My Welcome.'”
- Peter Hund, Good New Music, May 2016
“Gary Mackender…has crafted something so different in Dreams Are Strange that it defies any of the usual cliches or comparisons we reviewers so often rely upon. The melding of banjo and accordion alone probably goes against every sensibility and accepted musical convention known to mankind and yet it works in most wondrous ways. Adding (Heather) Hardy’s haunting violin to some of these tunes, ‘Donna’s Song’ in particular, is more than enough to make one sit up and notice."
- Jim Lipson, Zocalo Magazine, May 2016