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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Luke Winslow-King
I'm Glad Troubles Don't Last Always (Bloodshot)

Luke isn't merely from New Orleans, he is thoroughly of that unique cultural mash. Its variously originated musical accents and enchanting meters swell together into earthy accompaniment for universally familiar life narratives of anguish, jubilation, realization, and perseverance. 

Recommended "On My Way," "Act Like You Love Me," "Esther Please," "Change Your Mind," "Louisiana Blues," "No More Crying Today"

Video "Esther Please"

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Ruby Dee and the Snakehandlers
Little Black Heart 
(Catty Town Records)

Ruby Dee's larger-than-life personality is all over this high-stepping, honky tonk frolic. True, that observation can be accurately offered about all of her works -- rousing, light-spirited, and smokily in-the-groove as they always are. And it advantages her immeasurably that ace players have her back. Indeed, their robust zeal alone demands full-throated salute. 

But this latest success is particularly sweet. For in 2008, Ruby Dee suffered debilitating injuries that left her long struggling to recapture artistic capacities. This comeback represents admirable triumph over tragedy.

"Now, I have to work harder to put a song together," she reveals in liner notes. "But then again, I feel like I'm putting so much more of myself into the songs, now, And I honestly think these are some of the best I've ever written."

They are.   

Recommended "Can You Spare a Match?" "Mean Mean Woman, "Little Black Heart," "Pretty Little Kitty," "Who Do You Think I Am?" "You Underwhelm Me," "All Knocked Up," "Not For Long"

Video CD teaser

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Malpass Brothers
s/t (Organic Records)

Reassuring that the world is a good place to be, one through which soothingly mellifluous balladeers stroll, dispensing good cheer to those hopeful despite hardships. Each life-path does present piercing hurts that honest accounting must include. Christopher and Taylor do not flinch from that required task. In that, they remind of the Louvins -- as well as in their comfortably entwined harmonies. But they also celebrate the many redeeming joys such journeys offer. All of which. alloyed in maddening compound, is the wafted potpourri real men and women breathe daily.

Recommended "Baby We're Really In Love," "A Death In the Family," "Hello Walls," "I Just Don't Like This Kind of Livin'," "Beggin' To You," "It'll Be Me"

Video "Baby We're Really In Love"

Friday, August 26, 2016

Hillbilly Casino
"Live in the USA" (Hobolight)

Here portrayed with peak-voltage immediacy is why Hillbilly Casino has endured as vital; never can a music scene have too many sheerly devout, crazy-from-the-heart back alley minstrels.

The determinedly rockaround juggernaut has long been prized by average working folks, swarming the dance floors of Nashville and other hip stops on the prowl for freewheeling satiation.

Profoundly American roots music stylings old and new, raved forth unaffectedly and with devotion a-fire, rollick, sway, and reel until time and space lose significance, and all around is bacchanalian abandon.  

"I defy you to find five other bands in the US that can play Hank Sr. back-to-back with Motorhead, back-to-back with Ernest Tubb, back-to-back with Tex Ritter, back-to-back with the Ramones," indefatigable slap-bassist Geoff Firebaugh once declared.

Also in this barnstorming confederacy are six-string assassin Ronnie Crutcher, skins-attacker-without-fear Matt Arnn, and, of course, windmilling dervish frontman Nic Roulette. Roulette's manically howled sermons ricochet from neon beer-signs to hardwood to paroxysmal, shoulder-to-shoulder blue-collar brethren to sudsy, euphoric dimensions not locatable by eggheaded NASA cartographers. 

Hillbilly Casino's is a diversely splendored rock and roll of feverish genuineness. An amalgam of crunch-blast capacity and head-turningly individualist tune craft. And it is quite possible that they are the most important, most eminently grounded in Americana, and most knockabout agitative band in the land. 

Recommended "Tennessee Stomp," "No Toll Taken," "One Cup of Coffee," "The Hole," "Big Dan," "Psycho" (Nick Curran's), "It Feels Good To Be a Psycho," "Something's Gettin Ready To Give"

Promo video, "Live in the USA"

(I once read that when Rick Johnson began writing for Creem, in the 80s, he asked Lester Bangs for advice. Bangs told him to push a few favorite bands, ones Johnson felt deserved wider attention and appreciation. Hillbilly Casino is one of mine.)

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Psycho Devilles
"Motor Honey" (self)

It was palpable from their early 2000s start that Hot Rod Walt and the Psycho Devilles were loud, brash, full-throttled rockabillies of exceptional caliber. Their disciplined pursuit, a relentlessly swinging and twang-accented business, was nattily attired in impeccable, vintage cool.

Top echelon classing was quickly secured. This latest merit-affirmation flies down the lost highway with absolutely no regard for anyone not hip to the tip.  

Recommended "Elvis Riding Shotgun," "Road Rage," "I Built This Train," "Sweet 16," "My Way," "Rock and Roll Life"

Video "Sweet 16"

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

New Ghoultown CD announced
Also: vinyl reissue of 2008 disc

Hellish rhythms storm across a wind-wracked, desolate desert. Colossal, thunderous guitars gallop toward fading orange sunset. Morricone trumpets soar high in enraged skies, only to circle predatorily. 

A hoarse voice growls, murmurs, and declares at unbridled volume, sizzle-branding on struck listeners' cerebra the dark poetry of hard-drinking, leather-slapping Western zombies astride rip-snorting rock and roll steeds. 

"Ghoultown is not part of any genre, musical scene, or trend"

- band website

Ghoultown's leader, guitarist/singer Lyle, commands stage-fronts with a manner most sinister. His eyes pierce, his lanky frame
whirls and jitters as if possessed. A cowboy hat, its brim stylishly curled, is eminently apropos. And he swipes at his low-slung SG, driving great metal slabs of audio-snarl down a netherwordly trail.

"The new album will be titled, Ghosts of the Southern Son, he told me in a recent email. "The tracks are written, and we begin recording on Sept. 16. It will have 12 new songs, including 'Southern Son,' 'I Am the Night,' 'Black On Black,' 'Blood, Bullets, and Whiskey,' 'Tombstone,' and others."

He added, "The album will be released on my label, Angry Planet Records, which is the label most of our previous releases have been on (with the exception of two)."

The Ghoultown lineup, he tells me, has been the same since 2006. Lyle is abetted by a hardy, rampaging band of slingers: Jake (lead guitar), Lizard (acoustic guitar/vocals), Santi (bass/vocals), Dalton (drums), and Grimm (trumpet, percussion). 

United, they unleash a diabolical, side-winding savagery equal to any midnight watering-hole challenge.

Too, Lyle revealed that the forthcoming Ghosts of the Southern Son isn't the only planned release.

"Life After Sundown, our previous [2008] full-length album, will be released as a 12-inch vinyl LP. It will be released on Sept. 7, by Devil's Brew Productions, a label which specializes in vinyl."

Collectors, heed his admonition: "It will be a limited run of 300 units -- with three different colored vinyl options, 100 of each."

At the time of its initial issuance, I reviewed Life After Sundown for the now-defunct Rockabilly Magazine, writing:

"If deep-pocket major labels possessed any musical imagination or appreciation, they'd be scrapping over this big-sounding, ominously textured Western metallic-psycho illness."

In 2016, I stand by those sentiments. And await the new Ghosts of the Southern Son with tremendous anticipation.  

(see more, below)

Videos from Life After Sundown:

"Under the Phantom Moon"

"Drink With the Living Dead"

"Dead Outlaw"

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Silvershakers
"Barely Scrapin' By" (self)

Sam, Elvis, Scotty, and Bill couldn't have known that the bluntly energetic, jumped-up hillbilly/blues they'd contrived -- bursting with twangy lead, hiccup-punctuated professions, and a snapped-tight, effectively minimal beat --  would rouse new generations of fractured faithful in 2016. But so it is. In this iteration, both sincerely and rhapsodically.

Recommended "Barely Scrapin' By," "You Fickle Fool," "Restless," "Hatchback," "My Own Worst Enemy," "What Makes Ya Tick?"

Video "Barely Scrapin' By"

Monday, August 22, 2016

Ryan Cain and the Ables
"Cupid and the Devil" (self)

Here we find neon-hallowed the transportive conjury of the hiccup: In Ryan's hysterical, impassioned rockabilly testimonies -- tumbling. contorting, howling, and seizing like a backwoods believer in a midnight revival tent -- rises the epileptic glottal stop-and-goes of the masters, though with personal stamp. It's hillbilly country, and it's all over the road, with a big beat at the wheel.

Recommended "Hepcat Habitat," "Go Boy, Go," "Keep the Change," "Selfie of Your Heart," "Kill Devil Hillbilly"

Video "Hepcat Habitat"

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Bobby Hodge
"Bobby Hodge Collection" (self)

That Bobby never trod plateaus conquered by fellow early Grand Ole Opry performers like Charlie Louvin, Porter Wagoner, Marvin Rainwater, and Little Jimmy Dickens must be ascribed to fortune's insoluble ways, and not any paucity of merit. Collected here are traditional, affable country tracks he cut over hardscrabble years, imprinted with unique personality. A talent under-sung in its time, yes, but thankfully preserved for the ages.

Recommended "Gonna Take My Guitar," "You Asked For What You Got," "Another Broken Heart," "Don't Call the Law," "You've Broke Another Heart," "Bus Drivin' Son of a One"

Video "Gonna Take My Guitar"

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Krypton 88
"Sinner In Me" (self)

When hardworking folks gather to blow off the cares of the punch-clock week, these are the sounds dug: clean, swinging, uncluttered rock'n'roll bop. Appropriately basal, disarmingly fun, profound in its effectiveness. James Via, Eric Davidson, and Dana Gregory heft an essential banner. More power to 'em.

Recommended "Talk To Me Baby," "Mine All Mine," "I Didn't See That Coming," "Smugtown Stomp," "Midnight Train"

Video "Talk To Me, Baby"

Friday, August 19, 2016

Loretta Lynn
"Full Circle" (Sony Legacy)

Loretta's unpretentious, conversant voice effortlessly conveys the richness of common America -- the exhilaration of opportunities, oppressive weight of loss, laughter at silly ways, and observational wisdom accrued over years of living through such sometimes sunny, other times stormy days. There's a whole world here.

Recommended "Whispering Sea," "Everybody Wants To Go To     Heaven (But Nobody Wants To Die)," "Black Jack David," "Fist City"

Video "Whispering Sea" (live in studio)

Thursday, August 18, 2016

"Of Demons" 

In a moon-stabbed Lone Star cemetery, bony claw-hands thrust upward from shovel-turned soil; it crumbles all around as the fingers writhe and grasp at icy air. 

Four fearsome figures rise.

These growlingly morbid, hyper, helter-skeleton tracks were recorded in 2008 for Hairball 8/Psychobilly US. That label -- sinister sanctuary also to Demented Are Go and the Koffin Kats -- collapsed prior to the Livends disc release. 

So, the band members themselves have now released it. And their maleficent mission thus continues...

Recommended "We Are the Night," "Faces Of Death," "When Ghouls Come Seeking," "At Dawn They Rise," "Nightriders," "Night Of the Bats," "Murder At High Moon"

Video "We Are the Night"

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Johnny Legend
"I Itch" (Bluelight)

Tales of elective hardships and obstreporous sub-cultural postures, intoned against ominous and stormy crack-up zone rockabilly, are expected (and eminently dug) from an icon whose thunder road untraveled included storied stops in such underground scenes as horror films, pro-wrestling, porn, and, of course, rock and roll. (Indeed, Legend's work at Ronnie Weiser's 70s/80s Rollin' Rock deserves particular recognition. Are you hep to it?) Top accolade this time belongs to Legend's dramatic revivication of the haunting, folk-heroic theme from 1963 Disney miniseries "The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh." And I'd thought I was alone in remembering it.

Recommended "Scarecrow," "I Itch (Like a Sonuvabitch) "I'm Loaded," "Mexican Love," "My Baby Ditched Me," "3-D Daddy"

Video "Scarecrow"

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Quakes
"Live By the Sword" 
(Paul Roman/Orrex)

Characteristic of Paul Roman's adroit songcraft, forbidding tension lurks in ripped flashes, its sinister eyes slitted. But more often, buoyant, head-aloft optimism speed-marches on inexorable mission. Also characteristically, the Quakes throw out some of the brawniest and most insistent rockabilly on offer. Making it all the more arrestingly piquant is natural fellowship of psycho, punk, and new wave manners. I see the gauging arrow has spun off of the Cool Meter.

Recommended "Silent Type," "Under the Radar," "Fuck You"

Video "Fuck You"

Monday, August 15, 2016

Igor and the Red Elvises
(Shooba Dooba Records)

Those smart enough to buy this will find themselves in a kaleidoscopic technicolor ticker tape-showered bacchanalian scene where rock and roll, funk, polka, surf, reggae, disco, and folk clap hands, throw back laughing heads, and jitter bop into hysterical fracture. Equal dollops cleverness and roll-about hilarity. A distinctive Eastern European vibe informs each dance step through an uproarious exercise literally unlike any other, though, at moments, redolent of antecedent popular cultural muses.

Recommended "Smell the Bacon," "Best Looking Girl," "Everybody Polka," "Tika Song," "Beer, Babes, and BBQ," "Monster From Mars"

Video: "Bacon" (live)

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Sandbox Bullies
"Cadillac Smile" (Loaded Bomb Records)

Read through six rawboned arrangements, jaw-jutted rockabilly detonates in all directions, knocking flat moonage malcontents as if they were pomaded tenpins elated at the full-bore aggression.

Recommended "Cadillac Smile," "Gimme," "Train"

Video "Cadillac Smile"

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Kenyon Lockry
"Family Man" (self)

An easygoing buddy you didn't know you had has got a CD out. With gentlemanly, sunbeam-strobed home-folk bounce, Kenyon shares his world and the cherished ones populating it. An unhurried, loose-limbed family album of universal import.

Recommended "Ramblin'," "We Got a Good Thing," "Finger Lickin' Good Cookin'"," "Minutes Pass," "Lil' Kenyon," "Sweet Lil' Nora June," "Let Your Worries Blow Away In the Wind"

Video "Ramblin'" 

Friday, August 12, 2016

Dex Romweber
"Carrboro" (Bloodshot)

All about in Dex's works float ghosts lugubrious, stricken, and, at sudden moments, jaunty and piano-rolling. His is a booming voice summoning desperately contemplative, assertive flawed humanity. All of which strides and soars in confident confederation with authoritative guitar appropriately echoing into greater grasp.

Recommended "Nightride," "Taking My Baby Away," "Smile," "Midnight At Vic's," "Trouble of the World," "I Don't Know"

Video "Trouble of the World"

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Meteors
"The Power of Three" (Mutant Rock)

It was never seriously disputed. "Only the Meteors Are Pure Psychobilly." Contumelious. Brutal. Supremely indifferent to opprobrium. They are at smirking, stomping ease being malignant. And just as they were the primeval sinister brute creations, so too will they always be the only ones indispensible. 

Recommended "Rockin' At the House of Strange," "Psycho," "Do the Blood Feast Twist," "On the Devil's side," "The Curse of the Hunger For Crawling Things," "Look Behind You," "The New Primitives," "We Will Rise"

Video "We Will Rise" (taster)

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

13 Cats
"In the Beginning, Vol. 1 & 2" 
(13 Cats/Revel Yell)

A felicitously aberrant rascal mission whose storied big beat-ministers hailed from glory-scribed walks the Rockats, Stray Cats, and Polecats, 13 Cats may have been just too cool for this world; their flame burned briefly, but oh, so brightly. Danny B. Harvey, Tim Polecat, Smutty Smith, and Slim Jim Phantom crafted stunningly novel admixtures of literate, fantastic, scarlet lyricism and burly roots musics jetted up into tomorrow. They rocked headfirst into a tilted and technicolored taboo delirium dear to maddened cobblestone acolytes. And, though they ultimately went different ways, and discovered fresh joys, we have this stormy portrait of the momentary wonder that was.

Recommended "Flesh For Andy Warhol" (demo), "Hell Bop" (live radio broadcast), "Teddy Boy Kung Fu Weapon" (1996 debut show), "Chanting For Cadillacs" (demo), "Rockaholic Baby," "Snap, Crackle, and Hiss" (1996 debut show)

Live in Vegas video