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Boozin’ & Boppin

Twisted Rod

Rhythm Bomb

Returning with a second album is Prague rockabilly trio Twisted Rod. The sophomore album goes by the name ‘Boozin’ & Boppin’, and is the follow up to the rather successful ‘Bring It On Home!’ that brought much attention for the band with appearances at some of the best-known festivals and weekenders all over Europe. With an increased level of confidence, Twisted Rod continue their formula for wild and raw rockabilly with ‘Boozin’ & Boppin’ (Well, if it ain’t broke…), but there is a sense of even greater confidence here as songs fly out of the traps at pace, and with great expertise, via such examples as ‘Come On’ and ‘Rock & Roll Guitar’, as well as providing variety in their overall sound with the blues influenced ‘Why Did You Leave Me’ and lighter rhythm of ‘Ol’ Barn Stomp’. It is the intelligent manner in which Twisted Rod tackle their rockabilly by resisting the temptation to plunge for the obvious sound (i.e. ‘Thunder and Lightning’ is not as raucous as one might expect), in addition to remaining humble enough to heed some advice because ‘Baby Me And You Are Through’ could so easily be Marc & the Wild Ones. It’s like they’ve never been a way as ‘Boozin’ & Boppin’ retains much from their previous long player, but with a few added extras that definitely takes Twisted Rod to the next level.


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Howlin’ At The Moon

A.J. & the Rockin' Trio

Rhythm Bomb

Coming from a far sunnier climate and with a rockin’ beat to match the scorching temperatures of their native Portugal is A. J. & the Rockin’ Trio and their debut album ‘Howlin’ At The Moon’. A passionate and raw rockabilly sound that reveals itself from the start with the trio of songs ‘Waiting For You’, Hot Rockin’ Mama’ and ‘She Do The Bop’. However, there is more to this four-piece band than simply creating a wild racket as indicated by the excellent ‘Lonesome Sinner Blues’ with its welcome interruptions of brass instrumentation, to the sultry rhythm of ‘Hey Senorita’, and appropriate Western (film) flavour of ‘Gunfight At O.K. Corral’. The rockabilly maintains its pace however, and reveals A.J. & the Rockin’ Trio as true experts in their field with such infectious delights as the boppin’ ‘Baby Baby’ and detailed textures of ‘Miss Bobbie Sox’. With a dry sense of humour closing this set via ‘Even The Blues Don’t Wanna Get Along With Me’, this album is highly recommended if you enjoy your rockabilly on the wild side but also one that has the nous to change direction every so often to add variety in terms of its output.


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The Weather Vane

Coral Lee Farrow

Rhythm Bomb

Apparently known for her blue eyes and Australian passport, there is far more to Coral Lee Farrow once the contents of her sophomore album infiltrates your senses and works its way deep inside your soul. For this is an album full of musical promise with its various temptations and influences ranging from rockabilly to swing to country to tempt your musical senses. The laidback intro of ‘All I Can Do Is Sing’ is the perfect start to this album, in fact any album, as Coral Lee Farrow consigns a relationship to its past where the lyrics talk of its history, just as much as the instruments play their part in relaying this particular story. Elsewhere, ‘Big Wide World’ chugs out a mild rockabilly beat with some fine guitar and steel guitar making their marks on this song. The open heart confessions of ‘My Sweet Baby’ reveal a song with nothing to hide, and it’s a delight to hear with the vocals raw and passionate and the song’s rhythm chipper in its expression. Later on you will hear songs about the blues, complete with handclaps (‘Black Cat Blues’), and joyous occasions that involve ‘Boppin’ On The Moon’, and probably a first in terms of naming a song ‘Rodney’, which sounds far more glamourous than its name suggests with its details regarding “waiting for the train to Sydney…”. ‘The Weather Vane’ is a record that remains loyal to the various genres incorporated in its sound, but it is one that brings a freshness to its lyrical themes, and that is to be applauded.


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Aloha

Surfin' Gorillas

Rhythm Bomb

Surfing the waves for another outing is the Surfin Gorillas and their current album ‘Aloha’. What the listener gets is a track list of largely rip-roaring surfin’ instrumentals consisting of original compositions and covers. The difference here is that ‘Aloha’ introduces vocals on a few of the tracks, and in the process reveals another dimension to the band. Kicking things off is the excellent Dick Dale inspired ‘Riptide Surfer’, with the Surfin’ Gorillas very own guitarist Andy Wren being responsible for this particular track. From there on, the tracks range from the well-known ‘Move It Baby’, to the energised version of Curtis Knight & the Squires (featuring Jimi Hendrix) ‘Hornet’s Nest’. The song writing skills of Andy Wren pop up again for the lively and infectious ‘Beach Party’, before more original compositions crop up via drummer Gary Griffin with the speedy rhythm of ‘Surfin’ Crazy’ and title track, ‘Aloha’, that is particularly memorable for some fine sax via Clive Osborne. Totalling fifteen tracks, there is plenty of old school surfin’ sounds to take in and enjoy because there is far more on the up here than on the down.


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Hollywood Hop EP

RJ

Hans Jus D' Orange Entertainment

Rockabilly from Vreeland in the Netherlands by way of the initials RJ, otherwise known as Hans Jus D’ Orange, with a four-track EP straight to vinyl, and looking mightily impressive from the packaging alone. Once this latest release from RJ begins spinning you know you’re in safe hands with the authentic delivery of the vocal and immediacy of opening song ‘Hollywood Hop’. It’s an infectious start in terms of its rhythm, where guitars buzz and jingle harmoniously and the upright bass maintains a constant beat that keeps the genre of rockabilly well and truly alive. The following ‘Nobody’s Boppin’ Tonight’ maintains the tempo with a boppin’ rhythm that will persuade any doubters in no time that the dancefloor really is the place to be! The flipside offering finds RJ smitten with the ‘Red Head’ of the title as emphasised by some clever touches of the guitar and nice roll of the tongue in the vocal department.  Whist the four tracks presented here do not rely on any characteristics that are wild in nature, there is more of a rugged approach to final song ‘All Right, All Right’, which chugs along at a nice pace with the lead guitar and RJ’s vocal steering the wheel of this particular number. With the dancefloor in mind, this is a call to action as there are enough examples here to motivate anyone’s limbs, which RJ certainly succeeds in doing!


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Travellin’ Heavy with the Doel Brothers

The Doel Brothers

El Toro

Falling off the rear end of the passing jalopy this morning, and landing right on the doorstep of Famous Last Words (FLW), is the current album from the Doel Brothers with ‘Travellin’ Heavy with the Doel Brothers’. Brewed in the backwoods of Hampshire, the trio of brothers – Tom (drums), Gordon (vocals/guitar) and David (vocals/guitar) – are joined once more by Steve Whitworth on double bass, and Phil Morgan handling the steel guitar, in order to bring to life their second full-length album. What the listener gets here are twelve originals penned by the Doel Brothers that sound as if they have come from the hillbilly settlements of old, and one that is not afraid to shake things up with added western swing and rockabilly. As ‘Wild Wild Woman’ kicks things off with a definite sense of the ‘wild’ about it, due to a driving rhythm and the Doel Brothers full of holler during this rockabilly number. ‘Trouble’ is an intimate tale that is blues in nature and one that is compellingly told by Gordon Doel, and features some serious guitar playing that keeps this engine finely tuned. The filling wedged at the centre of this second long player from the Doel Brothers maintains the consistency and high quality with a succession of songs packed full of intricate details via some wonderful guitar pickin’, with added steel guitar that trips between ‘Does It Feel Good’, ‘You Ain’t A Woman’, ‘Side Step Round The Blues’ and ‘What Ya Wanna Do That For’. If that wasn’t enough excitement, then the truly in hicksville delivery of ‘Oh Boy’ (No, not that one!) turns up the heat somewhat with its references to honky tonk, which leaves the Doel Brothers in fine spirits and making ‘Travellin’ Heavy With The Doel Brothers’ a ride well worth taking.


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Dial My Number

Billy and The Kids

El Toro

Not to be confused with a band of similar name, Billy and The Kids is a rip-roaring trio from Sweden. With all the furore surrounding their latest album ‘Dial My Number’, it’s easy to digest such hype once the contents of their long player have ceased spinning because the high praise is fully deserved. By packing a combined punch and swagger in the sonic department, coupled with a real bounty of creative ideas, Billy and The Kids show their genius from the off with the rockin’ title track ‘Dial My Number’ and subsequent ‘Beautiful Brown Eyes’ which possess a swagger to its rhythm. ‘Bring My Cadillac Back’ is full of invention as it borrows a little bit of Gene Vincent, in addition to tracking the edges of a swing band and combining this with rock and roll. Such a description is a giveaway to the chosen cover of ‘Shake Rattle ‘n’ Roll’ with Big Joe Turner and Bill Haley & His Comets coming to mind here as possible influences on the band. Elsewhere,  lead singer and guitar player, Billy Stefan, sounds like an experienced head during ‘Just Your Friend’ with his vocal fully crooning and supported by a rhythm that is deliberately pared back and thus allowing Stefan’s vocal to do all the talking. By repeating a similar feat with the slightly rougher around its corners (again, this sounds like a deliberate tactic and one that works effectively) ‘Fame and Fortune’, and being a short-lived affair on a couple of levels, Billy and The Kids frontman shows that he can croon with the best of them. Full of variety, packed with energy and holding great pockets of creativity, Billy and The Kids deliver a full-length album that will leave your jaw gaping in astonishment. Just don’t be fooled by the commercial feel of the artwork though.


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All Tangled Up!

B and The Bops

Rhythm Bomb

This is definitely an odd one and therefore something of a disappointment due to being a supporter of the band’s previous work. Unwittingly, B And The Bops seem to have sprung open their own trap because the title of their latest album perfectly sums up the majority of the contents inside. There is no doubting the energy levels and enthusiasm of this band, where a close resemblance to Gene Vincent in both appearance and sound certainly appears to be one of the ideas for ‘All Tangled Up!’ And this is where the problem lies because it’s the amount of ideas presented here that gives the impression of band lost in their own creativity and direction. That is not to say that B And The Bops should not be commended for their creative thinking because they spring a few surprises compared to their previous work which, when it works, is definitely a positive. ‘Breathin’ Down My Neck (Fast)’ certainly presents a different side for reasons concerning its vocal, which needs to be heard, and for the song being a dark, edgy number that tips just over the minute mark before fading out. ‘Rockin’ Rhythm Mama’ falls back down to earth with a straightforward rockabilly sound, before taking a ride with the aforementioned Gene Vincent via ‘Serves Me Right’ and its direct guitar sound and tense vocals, “I can’t eat, I can’t sleep…” and you get the picture here. Once the instrumental ‘Spitzmaus’ enters the fray, superbly executed it should be said, the feeling at this juncture is of an album losing its direction. Another example of this is ‘The Man From The Other Side’ that sounds at odds with those Gene Vincent inspired moments (‘Weekend’) due to its heavier country leanings yet gives a vocal performance that is part Cash and well, a very different side to lead vocalist Branko which, again, needs to be heard. Where B And The Bops get back to their best, however, is during such numbers as ‘Crazy Over You’ and ‘Slam The Door’, with both songs providing the band with a stronger identity in terms of their rockin’ roots. Another take of opening song Breathin’ Down My Neck (Slow)’ offers another interpretation of this track, before further oddities expose themselves with the early 60s feel of ‘I’ll Just Keep On Loving You’ and instrumental ‘Wrangle’. ‘All Tangled Up!’ would’ve best been served as an EP from the songs ‘Crazy Over You’ up to ‘Tangled Boogie’ as it would have provided a clearer indication of what B And The Bops were actually trying to achieve here. As it stands, the album contains several good points which, unfortunately, do not work as a complete whole as it’s the sound of two different bands when one would have sufficed.


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Hits For Teen-Agers

The Round Up Boys

Rhythm Bomb

Apparently these guys went into hiding some years ago, with their last album surfacing at some point in 2007. Closer to the truth regarding The Round Up Boys whereabouts is that the four musicians of Michael Kirscht (vocals/guitar), Carsten Harbeck (bass), Axel Praefcke (drums) and Ike Stoye (guitar) have filled their time supporting other artists whether in the recording studio or live up on stage. With The Round Up Boys finally finding the time to release their new long player, ‘Hits For Teen-Agers’, you can certainly forgive the band for any actions of selfishness on their behalf by leaving all the extra activities behind as this album has been a long time in waiting. By laying down 15, yes, 15 new tracks for the album ‘Hits For Teen-Agers’, and the title being a clever play on words, The Round Up Boys extend this quality control to the most important aspect, and that being the entire recorded works. There is a true sense of the past created here, as several numbers set the scene of a dance hall from a 50s era, for example, that soak up any suggestions of romance. Two songs are fitting of such a description with the starry-eyed, ‘I Own Your Heart’, closely followed by the mid-paced tempo and declarations of love that is ‘That’s How I Feel About You’. With the song writing duties falling between Michael Kirscht and Axel Praefcke, The Round Up Boys are in safe hands considering the previously mentioned extra curricula of studio and live work. Most interesting is the manner in which both songwriters approach the songs presented here, with Praefcke preferring a more up-tempo and harder edge to his songs where dancing and partying is on his mind (‘Jukebox Baby’, ‘House Party’ et al), but also where certain wrongdoings of a personal nature are difficult to forget (‘Meanest Woman I’ve Seen’). Michael Kirscht on the other hand sounds more optimistic when it comes to romance by offering several tales that do not shy from their emotions with ‘That’s How I Feel About You’ being a prime candidate. By combining all these qualities together, The Round Up Boys have created a compelling album that is at one moment full of exhilaration and then weighed down by a heavy heart the next. ‘Hits For Teen-Agers, it’s old school and it’s great!


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Blue Swingin Mama

The Houserockers

Rhythm Bomb

Having amassed a total of fifteen years writing, recording and touring together on the rockin’ circuit, The Houserockers add to this incredible milestone with their latest long player, ‘Blue Swingin Mama’. Totalling 16 tracks, with two of these numbers being ‘lo-fi’ covers of ‘Susie Q’ and ‘Slippin In’ that really ought to be heard simply for the added realism of snap, crackle and pop that an old vinyl can possess, The Houserockers pay tribute to the musicians of the past with a selection of 50s covers, as well as adding a few compositions of their own. Not only has this lengthy period of performing together as The Houserockers provided a means of truly learning their craft and therefore creating one heck of a tight unit, but the main bargaining chip is frontman Rob Glazebrook who knows how to write a tune or two. More notably, it’s Glazebrook’s vocal that often contains a charismatic turn that can pull the listener in without any additional persuasion from the rest of the band. The album itself provides a feeling of several genres coming together, but with rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll being the most prominent. Such examples can be heard from the lonesome and reflective ‘Blue Moon Baby’, to picking up the tempo and running with it during the album’s title track, ‘Blue Swingin Mama’. The temperature increases further during ‘Slippin’ In’ where Rob Glazebrook sounds like he’s letting off steam after a particularly bad day at work. Variation is provided with the light, swinging feel of ‘Baby’s Got Two Left Feet’, and then pursuing similar ground with the rather excellent ‘Give Your Heart To Me’ that is played out to a reasonably pared back beat. The final fling of energy is reserved for the rockin’ ‘Trapped Love’ that is matched in the coolness stakes by ‘If I Had Me A Woman’, which has a certain aloofness about it and partly down to the use of mics as detailed by the liner notes. Paying their respects to rock ‘n’ roll history in fine style, as well as adding enough of their own personal touches, The Houserockers dig in for the next fifteen years with ‘Blue Swingin Mama’ being the perfect start.


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Motor Head Baby

Ezra Lee

Rhythm Bomb

Rolling back the years in rockin’ fashion is Ezra Lee with latest album ‘Motor Head Baby’. In order to make this long player achieve its pre-set goals, The Firebird Trio were recruited and proves a winning formula once the contents of ‘Motor Head Baby’ draws to a conclusion. As soon as the notes of ‘Rock Little Baby’ start to peel away, the lure and appeal of this album is undeniable as one is left with the immediate feeling that today is going to be a good day, such is the feel-good factor radiating from this one particular track. Lead song, ‘Motor Head Baby’, does nothing to distract from this feeling as it pounds out its rhythm, with both Ezra’s vocal and quick fingers keeping pace, before taking it down ever so slightly during the rather excellent ‘Wow Wow’ declaring its love, only for a lack of return in the opposing corner. ‘Volcanic Boogie’ lets the instruments do the talking by serving up the first instrumental. There’s an intriguing pattern to ‘Over At Hattie’s Barrelhouse’, where part of its rhythm sounds detuned in places via the piano, which makes for a fascinating listen. A cover of ‘The Entertainer’ pops up halfway through, and seems to be a deliberate distraction by trying to avoid the personal blues that is to follow with, ‘Don’t Say That You Love Me’. This down in the dumps mood continues with the tender instrumental ‘Last Date’, but only lasts for a brief moment once ‘Rocker’ blows away the blues and sees Ezra Lee fighting back in badass style; piano pumping, vocal hollering and a tight-as-rhythm section via The Firebird Trio. By encapsulating such genuine emotions throughout ‘Motor Head Baby’, the only thing left to do is jump on board and enjoy the ride!


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After The Rooster Crows

Mystery Trio

Rhythm Bomb

Upon first hearing Mystery Trio’s current album, it left a rather blank impression, with a feeling of not knowing what to make of it. Second outing however, the fuss surrounding this three-piece unit was fully understood. ‘After The Rooster Crows’ is a fitting title for the boys from Brazil’s album. An apt description of the contents inside because there is a sprightly feel to their rockin’ tunes; highlighted by first song, ‘We’re Gonna Have A Good Time’, and born to do this job, Elvis Martinatto, who sounds eager to get the festivities started judging by the faint hiccups and flickering hollers in his vocal delivery. For those expecting a wild, non-stop adrenalin ride of rockabilly, then think again, as Mystery Trio provide much variation in their overall sound, and evidenced by the reflective stroll ‘Just Awaitin’, for example. A huge sip of coffee is taken in the, ‘pinch yourself in order to believe it’ moment that is ‘Black Coffee’, brought to life by impressive vocals once more. ‘After The Rooster Crows’ is certainly a sophisticated album in the (modern) rockabilly world, and one that should be filed under the heading ‘grower’, due to the levels of detail hidden between its layers. But it’s also the restrained manner in which Mystery Trio deliver their material, only giving way, every now and then, with a desire to truly go wild (i.e. ‘Brunette To Blonde’). In addition to this, much respect is given between the trio where the vocals are often pushed to the fore, yet Beto Glaser’s electric guitar has a habit of creeping under the tripwire of said vocals without impeding its impact in any way (i.e. ‘Pretending Is A Game’). There are few immediate numbers, with ‘Call Me’ being one such song that will continue playing in your mind long after it’s finished, such are its addictive qualities. A trio from Brazil who suggest they’re in it for the long haul judging by the strength and depth of latest album ‘After The Rooster Crows’, which should still be spinning this time next year, and quite possibly the year after that.



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