Sunday, October 13, 2019

The Raygun Cowboys "Bloodied But Unbroken"

(Stomp Records 2019)

Limbo
Fast Machine
Truth
Jonesin'
YEG
The Only One
Ain't Got Time
Bloodied But Unbroken - Live My Life For Rock'n'Roll
Bring It Home Tonight
Walk Of Life

The Raygun Cowboys are a band that have been around for 19 years yet their recorded output is relatively sparse. It wasn't until 2006 that the boys released their debut album Underground Boogie. Back then they had the traditional rockabilly three-piece line up but by the time the self-titled 2008 release saw the light of day the boys had beefed up their sound with the addition of a horn section. Now then, I do not like horn sections. It's nothing to do with being closed-minded. I just know what I like and don't like. It generally turns a raw rockin' sound into a more saccharin rock'n'roll one. Some exclusions are, of course, King Kurt, Ghoultown and The Highliners. Therefore, I pretty much ignored The Raygun Cowboys without actually ever listening to em. What a gobshite I was. But then in 2017 the lads included a cover of the SNFU song Painful Reminder on their The Cowboy Code album. The video showed up on social media, I clicked on it, and it became an instant all-time favourite of mine. I'm very much a vocals kinda guy. They can either make a band shite, mediocre or in a league of their own. Well when the first few lines of the song emanated from my headphones I immediately sat up and took notice. Jön Christopherson is a vocalist par excellence. Bordering on operatic, he's a big man with a big voice ranging from baritone to tenor. So on the strength of that one song I went and sourced the entire Raygun Cowboys back catalogue and bought the lot. Two years after my epiphany the boys are back with their new album Bloodied But Unbroken. No bollixing around this time. An order was placed straight away. No waiting around for Postman Pat either or release dates as being the special boy that I am, Mike from Stomp Records sent me on the files for this very review. The Raygun Cowboys are the kind of outfit that leave you thinking, well they can't surpass their last record. That's the kind of quality they exude on each release. Yet, on each release, they do just that and this one is no exception. The slap bass and drums rockabilly backbeat is souped-up with a cowpunk guitar and rock'n'roll brass section. Sitting on top of that is Jön Christopherson's vocals which are equal parts velvet and aggression. Half way through listening to this album I thought to myself "I wonder what he'd sound like on a ballad with just an acoustic guitar?"...well lo and behold for the first couple of minutes on Bring It Home Tonight that's exactly what I got. So far this album had everything. But then, the final song awaited. I absolutely can not stand Dire Straits. If they just shortened their name to Dire it would be more apt. Their quasi-rock'n'roll song Walk Of Life is tedious. So, was this last song a cover of that song? Yes. Yes it was. But fuck me the boys breathe new life into it. Maybe it's Knopfler's vocals I find tedious about this song. Christopherson's vocals are the...anti-tedious! I still won't listen to it on repeat though. Sorry lads. You can thank Mark Knopfler for that. I will listen to the other 9 on repeat though until I figure out which is the standout track. As it stands that's a tough task. The album is due for release on October 25th in a whole variety of sexy packages from the boys' bandcamp page. They have a Canadian tour from late October to December to coincide with the release. Linkorama for all the info below. 


Saturday, September 21, 2019

The Lucky Devils "News From Earth"

(Self-released 2019)

Ride For My Life
We're All Gonna Die
Banzai
Greensleeves
Zombie Kids
Cryin' In My Head
Bongos Sound
Grendizer Surf
Welcome To Hell
Psychos
Rasputin

Celebrating their 20th anniversary, the trio of Lille Lotharios bring forth their 11-dittied disc o' delights "News From Earth". The Lucky Devils have always been that band that bridge the gap perfectly between neo rockabilly and old school psychobilly. They've also always been that band that give a two-fingered salute to your common or garden array of cover versions. Actually, when ever they release an album I always perk up with glee when I see what they've chosen to cover. More often than not they're songs I like that don't "belong" in the rockin' rule book. Fuck rule books I say. A couple of years ago they did an astounding version of Matt Bianco's More Than I Can Bear on their Under Cover And Still Alive double album. This time they've taken Boney M.'s Rasputin and turned it into a cossackabilly stomper! There are a couple of other covers here too but they're not just a cover band so enough dwelling on that side of the band. The boys know how to pen a melodic original too. Melody is something that can get left behind in psychobilly when bands try to outdo themselves in the speed department....and those awful fucking shouty sore throat vocals with no air whatsoever. Conversely, Phil Lucky can hold a vocal note and then some. Add some dangerous-sounding, twangy, reverb-drenched guitar, a bass that seems to slap off the four walls, drumming that is for the fit and not the fat and that pretty much sums up News From Earth. All wrapped up in the excellent art of David Vicente, it really is a quality package! (I have one of those, in my trousers). It's available directly from the band on both CD and vinyl.



 

Sunday, September 1, 2019

The Hyperjax "Bringing The Bad Back Home"

(Wolverine Records 2019)

Bringing The Bad Back Home
I Persevere
Roaming The Dead End Streets
Shadow Brawler
Chasing The Night Down (To The Screaming End)
The Blind Leading The Blind
Cannon Fodder Blues
Age Of The Addictive Personality
Wayward Son
The Crowning Of A Fool
Going Down Smilin'

The Hyperjax. They're everything I like about punk and I'm picky as fuck about punk. With that said though, they're no punk band. They're very much the anti-pigeonhole outfit. They just have the elements I like about some punk bands. Catchy melodies and intelligent lyrics dealing with social issues, and observations about our current generation and life in general. Of course they also have the rockin' ingredient of a big ol' slap bass. They are not the much maligned "punk with a slap bass" combo though. They're way beyond that and are very much their own machine. They always have been since their inception in the mid 90s. But years of honing their craft and sound must make the guy down the record shop sigh with dismay as he tries to slot their records into the genre-specific sections of his music emporium. I have a press release here which states "Like The Jam meets Stray Cats meets The Living End". The Jam comparison I can see as Sam Woods' lyrics are comparable to those of Paul Weller. The Stray Cats...not so much and they're everything The Living End are not. That's one band that started out good and became something else altogether. Conversely The Hyperjax started out good and became something great. They didn't "progress" in such a way as to completely alienate their original audience. Sam Woods really has a way with words and together with Dan Clark and Neil Holden the trio have created an album that has none of the grating annoyance of 99% of punk and none of the tired run-of-the-mill blood and gore of 99% of psychobilly. What we have here is simplistic yet cleverly created, finely executed, punk rockin' parables for the denizens of many's the underground scene.  


Saturday, August 31, 2019

Night Nurse "The Antidote"

(Wolverine Records 2019)

Tell Me How
Baby Blue
Lost In Us
Who's The Fool
Ugh
Nurse U2 To Death
Self Esteem
Get Even
Bed Bug
Ding A Ling
First Steps

Finland seems to spit out talent without even trying. Bands from that neck of the woods bring a certain crossover rock appeal to things with the "billy" moniker stuck on the end. Night Nurse are no exception. Their latest offering "The Antidote" is oozing with slap bass driven sounds deserving of a bigger audience than just those of us hidden away yet in-the-know in the undergrowth of psychobilly's netherworld. Fronted by the sultry Nurse Camy, the quintet, as the album title alludes to, at least to my mind, offer up an antidote to the barrage of unimaginative, forgettable three-chord merchants clogging up the arteries of the scene. In their sonic syringe are equal measures of rock, punk'n'roll, indie-pop and an intravenous drip administering a steady flow of rockin' psychobilly. The production is on the money and sounds like it costed a fair bit of money to produce! This is no low budget affair. The mixing really is pristine. I will say however, the final track, First Steps, is quite a departure from the songs on the rest of the album. Stylistically I mean. It has that rock opus thing going on as opposed to the in-your-face onslaught of the others. Anyway, this album is filled with melodic, blood-romantic ditties that sound good on first listen and grow better and better with each subsequent listen. It's available on both LP and CD directly from Wolverine Records. Now I must dash as I have to ogle Nurse Camy once more in the video for Baby Blue...


Saturday, August 17, 2019

Degenerated "Downfall Of Humanity"

(Killjoy Records 2019)

Downfall Of Humanity
I Hate It

 Ah yes, good auld Degenerated. The trio of Berlin-bollixes are back with their second outing on vinyl. The boundary-bending blackguards certainly take no prisoners with what can only be described as a cacophony of chaos. Starting out with some mellow folky acoustic guitar it's not long until the whole thing descends into punked-out rockabilly psychosis of the lo-fi variety. Sonically they certainly capture the bleakness of the lyrics but with a memorable catchy chorus. Madman tells me the 7" was very much a DIY project and the forthcoming album is already mixed and has better production values. But I kinda like the DIY sound of this release so stick that up your f-hole.
Flipping her over, the fuzzabilly sound is replaced by somewhat of a psychotic hoedown ditty that appeals to my cowpunk sensitivities. I like the no-nonsense lyrical content too. Look at me there liking the new Degenerated record when Madman thought I would think it was shite! As is the norm for Killjoy, the little round slab is available in a range of colours...70 blue (band edition), 50 orange (Killjoy edition) and all the rest in black.



Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Tasteless "Bad Taste! EP"

(Self-released 2019)

Bad Taste
Panic & Confusion
Imposter
If She's Square

I don't excite easily (ask my ex-girlfriends), but when the star-studded quartet Tasteless started dropping teasers of their upcoming EP, there was a volcanic eruption in me trousers! Back when I first started to move from rockabilly to psychobilly, I always had a preference for the bands that lay somewhere in between. Neo Rockabilly has always been where it's at for me musically. But, the ratio of psychobilly bands to that of neo rockabilly in the new millennium is 100:1. I'm talking the proper stuff. When I envisage in my mind what neo rockabilly sounds like, Tasteless are 100% on the money. The quartet came together in 2018 featuring four stalwarts of all things rockin' and psycho. So who's who then? Kevin Haynes of Torment fame is on sticks duty, dirty slapper Bruno Malo from the Moonshine Stalkers is giving the bass a good rogering, Ray Waters of the boundary-pushing Zipheads is on vocals (and what pipes he has) whilst former Mad Dog Cole/Devils Wrays twangster Loz Hawkins has that neo guitar sound down to a tee. Right from the get-go, the clean-sounding catchytastic guitar intro of Bad Taste sets you up for a riotous trip through neo rockabilly brilliance. The eight-second wait for the bass and drums backbeat to kick in almost psyches you up for what's to come. Perfect track placement for an EP that exudes class. Think Fractured crossed with the all-too-short-lived Cellmates and you're half way there. Holy Jaysus I love this record. I thought I'd never come across another new band who play this particular style of rockin' the right way again. What a welcome addition to the scene they are. Both vocally and musically (that guitar!) the lads are in a league of their own. They look the part, they sound the part, they are the part! The EP will be released at the end of August and you can preorder it now (link below). They're playing the Psychobilly Meeting in July and will have some units for sale there. If, like me, you're averse to sun, do yourself a favour and preorder this slab of neo-finesse without hesitation. 


Monday, June 10, 2019

The Bloodstrings "Born Sick"

(Wolverine Records 2017)

Intro
Born Sick
Ready For The Storm
Kiss Goodbye
Mondsüchtig (Featuring Kitty Casket)
Cutthroat Love
Damaged
Best Of Me
My Heart Is Like An Engine (Featuring Mo Diggerz)
Last Call
Confession
Tonight We Dine In Hell (Bonus Track)
Hold The Line (Bonus Track)

The Bloodstrings from Aachen first came to my attention back in 2014 when they released their début album Coal-Black Heart. My initial impression of the band was that they were like a kind of psychobilly version of The Spookshow. It's an excellent record. Their new album though takes the sound of the first album and adds a lot more aggression. It's as if the band have carved out their own niche over the past 5 years and put their own stamp on what is loosely termed punkabilly. There's a lot more to The Bloodstrings than can be summed up by using that particular term. The band is a melting pot of influences and it's that diversity which somehow blends perfectly together that make the band stand head and shoulders above their competition. People ask me how can I only listen to one type of music? I don't. Take this album, it's not "one type of music". It's filled with aural delicacies ranging from punked-out new school psychobilly to horror punk and ballads filled with dark romance. The latter of which I absolutely love and really showcases Celina's excellent vocal chords. Speaking of vocalists, there are a couple of guest spots on the album in the guises of Kitty Casket from Kitty In A Casket and Mo Diggerz from The Diggerz. If chanting punk rock backing vocals, finely executed instrumentation, lyrics that deal with societal woes and heartbreak told through the medium of horror topped off with an expertly slapped bass appeal to you then snap this one up before it disappears into the ether like their first album.

The Bloodstrings on Facebook
Buy the album on vinyl or CD
Hellacious Harmonies on Facebook