Monday, September 12, 2016

Hanzo "Hanzo"

(Self-released 2016)

Loose Lips
Doll Face
Sweet Tooth

I recently received a message from Eddie Burnham, bassist extraordinaire with Warwickshire outfit Hanzo. The boys call themselves a rock'n'roll band influenced by rockabilly, psychobilly and surf. That self description is fairly apt. Anyway, their self released/self titled album was sent and the headphones were put on. A sextet of professionally produced rock'n'roll refrains emanated from the aforementioned sonority accessories. Straight off the bat this is rock'n'roll à la a less garage/more polished sounding Cramps, Bikini Red era Screaming Blue Messiahs or to a certain degree The Irving Klaws. The surf influence is very audible as is the garage and there is a twist of rockabilly. I'm straining to hear any psychobilly though unless the psychobilly they alluded to in their list of influences is that of its very early incarnation (pre-Meteors) when garage rock'n'roll bands were right on the border of garage punk and rockabilly. If so, then yes...I shall strain no more. With all that said
though, the boys aren't ones to be pigeon holed by any one specific genre. This is more than palpable when listening to this album. Songs can go from having a tom tom heavy rockabilly beat with surf twang and then spiral in to a more straight up rock jam session. Lyrically, the songs have sweet fuck all to do with any of those influences mentioned earlier and this is what gives the band their own identity. Dare I say the lyrical content is more intelligent than the usual fare associated with the influences in question? Quiffed-up purists may gasp in dismay at the lack of a slap bass on these recordings...especially by a band claiming such influences, but as I said, the lads refuse to be lumped in in any one particular genre. The rule book is well and truly used as emergency toilet paper in this instance. If you're in the mood for something different then I highly recommend you give Hanzo a listen and leave your closed minded hat on the hook by the door. The album is available to download via the band's bandcamp page and physical CDs are available at shows and direct from the band. Links to buy below...

The O'Prez

Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Goddamn Gallows "Ghost Of Th' Rails"

(Crazy Love Records 2016)

Smoke Satan
Ghost Of Th' Rails
Pass The Bottle
City Of Hell-A
Underneath The Stars
Smoke Stacks
Big Man
Planet Of The Apes
Ticket To Bleed
Yet another European reissue of an earlier Goddamn Gallows platter. This time 2009's Ghost Of Th' Rails. This time around any traces of psychobilly have all but gone. There are still some traces of rockabilly but the punk rock black grass sound is very much to the fore. It's a harder, more violent sounding Gallows than their previous output. Carnivalesque in parts and still retaining their trademark distinctive style. The guitar sound has that metal gain sound to it and that screamcore is once again in the fray. The boys put a lot of work in to these songs as is evident by the unpredictability of the direction each song goes in. They're not just three chord run of the mill shite. It's obvious that a lot of construction and technique went in to the crafting of these songs. Fans of the first album (when they were called The Gallows) will find this album to be quite a departure from that. But fans of the band who have metamorphosed along with the band throughout their sonic journey will lap this up! The album is available on black vinyl, limited edition yellow vinyl and CD for your delectation. Links to buy below...

The O'Prez

The Goddamn Gallows "Gutterbillyblues"

 (Crazy Love Records 2016)

A Sinner's Song
Everybody Dies
Save Us
Gutterbilly Blues
Wherever I Go
I Got A Woman
Born 2 Lie
Face The Day
Saint O' Killers
Don't Feed Me
Another reissue of an old Goddamn Gallows favourite sees Crazy Love present their 2007 album Gutterbillyblues for the European market. It's a rootsy psychobilly blend crossing in to punk territory in places...or gutterbilly as the album title states. There is some fine story telling going on here through the medium of song and what's more you can download the lyrics from the band's website here. One thing I find grating is the odd bit of screamcore that pops up here and there. But what do I know? I just like what I like and don't like what I don't. God knows I don't want to get on the wrong side of these guys. Fuckin' heads on 'em. Seriously though, The Goddamn Gallows do what they do and they do it well. In amongst the dementia of the stomping music there is an air of melancholia set to a backdrop of pessimistic and dark lyrical content. It's the perfect soundtrack for tormented souls. The album is available on black vinyl, limited edition red vinyl and CD. Links below.

The O'Prez

Saturday, September 10, 2016

The Ditchrunners "Rips Aus Dem Graben"

(Broken Records 2016)

Ditch Stomp
Cannibal Ballad
4 Wheel Drive
Ghost Train
710 vs 420
Whiskey Smoke
Truck Driving Wildman
Musky Jacks
Yankee Yell
Street Ratt
Mongers Song
White Horse

I'd not heard of The Ditchrunners before this sexy little digipak alighted on my plush red carpet during the week. The title suggested it was a German band as did the record label...Broken Neck, a subsidiary of Crazy Love. Alas, I couldn't have got the whole shebang more arseways. Turns out The Ditchrunners are in fact from the US of A, Wisconsin to be precise....Stevens Point to be preciserer!! It also turns out the band have been around for a few years and this particular album since 2013...but this version has more ditties o' delight and that version was called Rips From The Ditch...which is the English translation! They're a four-piece outfit that describe their sound as "Honky Tonkin' Gypsy Gutter Grass" and have a list of contributing members so long that it wouldn't fit on a roll of wallpaper. Anyway, having had no preconceived notions before slipping this in to the CD player, I was immediately kicked in the man-purse by the opening instrumental. A rousing piece of rustic stomp. But, all too often, great players are let down by shite vocalists. Buckshot Bredlau is NO shite vocalist. He's a fucking EXCELLENT vocalist. Gravelly and baritone. I was always drawn to bands who had a more ballsy approach to American roots music. The Skiff Skats in the 80s, The Tokyo Skunx in the 90s. Bands like Custom Made Scare in the Noughties. Bands like the Urban Pioneers now. Then I hear these guys (and girl) and fuck me I love em. Yankee Yell was making me skull vibrate for fuck sake! If you made a list of every form of American roots music ever and swapped out those original watered down (by the powers that be) artists and gave that list to a pack of deranged musicians with a penchant for the maniacal then this would be the resultant album.

The O'Prez

The Gallows "Life Of Sin"

(Crazy Love Records 2016)

The Gallows
Last Night
Cold Dark Night
Life Of Sin
Screamin' Heart
Torture Chamber
House Of The Dead
Underground Destiny
Wreck Of Ol' 97
You're Gonna Get It
Never Be The Same
Originally released in 2005 and 11 years later seeing the light of day again on Crazy Love Records is the now Goddamn Gallows first long player when they were simply known as The Gallows...and had just three members and a more raucous psychobilly sound before they mutated in to their gutterbilly guise of today...and I win the prize for longest opening sentence ever! So in hindsight, this is a stripped back psychobilly version of The Goddamn Gallows but there are hints of the direction the band would take in later years. For the most part though it's very much in-your-face psychobilly of the American variety. US psycho outfits generally seem to veer more towards a rootsy tinged with punk take on psychobilly as opposed to their European cousins. This is very much the case on this album. The album has a "live in the studio" sound to it. It's full of punk attitude with the bollocks of a psychobilly beat. It's a rare beast of an album. You think you know what you're getting but then the boys throw you a curve ball and you're gone in to a different genre altogether. There's a lot going on here, especially when you take in to account it's only three guys! You could say it's the perfect introduction to the genre-bending band they were to become. The album is available on both vinyl and CD....links to buy below.

The O'Prez

Friday, September 9, 2016

The Spastiks "Sewer Surfing"

(Crazy Love Records 2016)

Sewer Surfin'
My Baby Was Abducted By Aliens
Radiation Baby
Wolfman Crawl
Mickey Mouse
Another Dead Hooker
Brown Eye Girl

Well they finally did it. They've reached their ultimate goal. They've climbed to the highest rung of the ladder in the tights of psychobilly. That's right readers....grab those horns and sound the fanfare! The Spastiks are, at last, getting a full album review by me! .............Hello? Is this thing on? Tough crowd. Well feck off then.
FINE! They've finally released their début platter (which, incidentally comes on black AND limited edition yellow vinyl...110 pieces...hand numbered...AND CD!) on everyone's favourite label, Crazy Love Records, owned by everyone's favourite German, Gorgeous Guido Neumann. Look at him there girls, isn't he only gorgeous? So, 10 ditties of reverb drenched psychobilly with oodles of twang and lyrics that the boys over at Troma Entertainment would be proud/jealous of. The shlockabilly lyrics are made more threatening by the minacious rhythms of the guitar and ballsy bass slapping. You can hear quite clearly that the boys are very much influenced by the first wave of psychobilly. It's pure...oh, I better not say's authentic psychobilly! The boys have been arsing about in loads of bands over the years but they all seemed to just fizzle out. Not so this time around. The Spastiks continue to go from strength to strength and are gaining a worldwide audience. European as well as their native US festival promoters have began to sit up and take notice of this trio. This fine release should see them gain even more well deserved acclaim. Sexily packaged too I might add with some fine artwork by the legendary Oscar Hertin (not quite as legendary as me mind). If straight-up no frills psychobilly with lashings of rockabilly rhythm is your bag (it's mine) then make that purchase! Upon arrival of your purchase, gently tease your finger in to the hole (if CD) or carefully hold the rim (if LP) and place your purchase on the relevant aural pleasure device....and don't forget that kitchen roll lads (I recommend Plenty) as you'll get so excited that pant-splash may occur.

The O'Prez

The Spastiks on Facebook
Buy the Yellow Vinyl
No...I want the Black Vinyl
No wait....the CD...I want the CD
(you can of course buy all 3)
Hellacious Harmonies on Facebook

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Eddy Blake "The Wooden Whale"

(Eddy Blake 2016)

The Titan
Low Down To The Ground
All I Can Do Is Cry
As Tears Go By
Love Float Away
Dream Of A Miner's Daughter
Drink Up And Go Home
I Love Everyone

I'd heard a song called Walk My Walk a long time ago somewhere on the net and made a mental note to research the band in question....Canada's Cockroaches. But of course I forgot until they popped up again on one of the Modern Syndrome Neo Rockabilly Nation compilations last year. So this time around I was adamant to find out more. After much Googling I discovered the names of the band members and then it was on to Facebook to see if any of them had a profile on there. Lo and behold who should I discover only slap bass and vox frontman Eddy Blake. I sent him a message asking if The Cockroaches self titled 2007 CD was still available! It was, a purchase ensued, an autograph was signed, and the CD was mine! I was delighted with meself! Anyway, as it turned out, Eddy was still very active musically what his Eddy Blake And The Honky Tonk Heartbreakers rootsy garage-a-billy ensemble and now this, his brand new solo album "The Wooden Whale". Eddy says it's a concept album. The concept being the only instrument used is the double bass. I was sold on that idea before even listening to the album. "The album is a bass trip for me. I've been playing upright bass about 20 years now, in all sorts of rockabilly, r n' b and bluegrass bands and I've also played classical music. So the main thing from a musical perspective was to make a record with just the bass, to see where I could go with that" said the ultra-talented Mr Blake when I quizzed him further. Well, he went beyond anything I expected! The bass is slapped, plucked and bowed. It's a rootsy rockabilly symphonic masterpiece. And I don't use the term masterpiece lightly. Mostly self penned songs and instrumentals with a few choice covers make each song flow perfectly from one to the other. Anything with "billy" attached to the end of it has been done to death and it's not easy to take that, or any musical genre that's been around for years in a new direction. Our Eddy has done just that with stellar results. I like to keep my music collection categorised but this in a category all by itself. It's a moody, dark, double bass carousel of delights.

The O'Prez