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The Sabres

The Sabres

Rhythm Bomb

Describing themselves as an ‘American instrumental rock ‘n’ roll combo recreating the savage guitar sounds that ruled the world in the 50s and 60s’ is, more or less, a perfect way to describe The Sabres recent, and eponymously titled album. Where this album differs is when it decides to stray from such a description by applying the brakes and taking a more relaxed approach, or picking from a wider number of musical reference points that make this album more than a straightforward surf guitar instrumental long player. With so much expression crammed into opening number ‘Pussy Footin’ despite only running for a brief time, this particular instrumental manages to spin and twirl its way throughout, in addition to sliding down the fretboard of frontman Casello’s guitar to great effect. After such a dramatic entrance, there is no let up as far as the detailed expression is concerned with ‘Stink Bomb’ sounding like an additional number to a film score, and ‘Hamhocks’ free flowing use of guitar and Hammond organ possessing a real 60s flavour. ‘Tsunami’ really lives up to its title with a combination of surf guitar and drums maintaining a hectic pace. It’s no surprise that a calmer tempo is applied to the following ‘Always Blue’, which is executed to perfection with, naturally, Casello’s guitar leading the way and supplemented with a light, shuffling percussive rhythm. There are moments to ‘Nutrocker’ that really captures the senses, only for the song to take a less desirable route via a nauseating section of 60s kitsch. ‘Ride The Savage’ gets back on track by way of some red-hot guitar, and then proceeded by ‘Chin Tiki Swing’ showcasing the band’s skilful musicianship to wonderful effect. If ‘Chin Tiki Swing’ is not enough for some to suggest a suitable conclusion due to its sheer brilliance, then a cover of Link Wray’s ‘Jack The Ripper’ is definitely a fitting finale to the talents of The Sabres.


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Cheater

The Domestic Bumblebees

Enviken

It’s been a while since the last long player from The Domestic Bumblebees, but the wait is finally over with brand new offering ‘Cheater’. Having crafted this latest album for the purpose of catering for ‘good and bad times’, The Domestic Bumblebees turn in a mixed tempo of songs that live up to such a description. It’s safe to say that the first half of this album from a lyrical perspective are the tunes that reflect the down times, with song titles providing such clues – ‘Blue Lover’, ‘Cheater, ‘Crying Over You’ et al – whereas side two lifts the spirits in a flurry of optimism and revelry that is all about ‘Summer Nights’ and ‘Sweet Sin’. There is nothing in the rhythm of opening song ‘Blue Lover’ to suggest that it’s in the doldrums because it’s a driving rocker of a song, with the faintest of links to the American power pop that was popular with a number of post-punk bands during the late 90s. Unusual as this may seem considering the genre in which The Domestic Bumblebees reside in, it’s also an interesting aspect to their music and overall appeal because there is crossover potential here with the band clearly fans of other types of music. ‘Crying Over You’ provides another example of the band’s diversity because its roots are firmly planted in an early 60s vibe of pop and garage rock. The title song, ‘Cheater’, lands on more familiar ground by being a rugged bopper and offers smart and witty lyrics – one line in particular that really stands out due to referring to an infamous sports personality – that simply have to be heard. The built-for-the-dancefloor ‘Matilda’ is full of wishful thinking but suffers as a result of this as it ambles for too long in second gear. Far from dwelling on this as two rockin’ numbers arrive with the first, ‘No Matter What’, being the kind of song to make Jerry Lee Lewis proud, and the follow on, ‘Rock Awhile’, is wild rock ‘n’ roll of the highest order, exemplified by the skilful guitars ringing out their beat and complete with splashes of whammy bar! The quality level dips with the plodding tempo of ‘Sweet Sin’, only for the closing ‘Rocker’ to save the song from its blushes by pumping some much needed life into the album’s finale. By attempting to offer a whole lot more outside of what could be defined as their comfort zone, The Domestic Bumblebees continue to be an exciting prospect, which is evident from the majority of the songs making up latest album ‘Cheater’.


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Hot Summer Nights

The Wise Guyz

El Toro

Prolific when it comes to their song writing, The Wise Guyz are back with a fourth album release, ‘Hot Summer Nights’. Charting similar territory to their previous album releases, this latest instalment raises the temperature somewhat with a variety of rockabilly numbers, but also shuffles in a few other influences and ideas to keep The Wise Guyz’ creative pot bubbling. With sixteen tracks to transmit their often wild rockin’ sound, ‘2 AM Rock’ is the first offering and what a way to make an introduction! Full of conviction, these Ukrainian cats will be rockin’ until the sun rises because ‘2 AM Rock’ is everything its tile suggests as it’s wild, it’s fuelled with energy, and possesses a real sting in its vocal that will raise even the dead into a boppin’ frenzy! Next in line, ‘Crash’ lets the instruments take the driving seat by kicking up a dangerous and menacing rhythm, greatly emphasised by the additional saxophone that adds a real intensity to the song. ‘Miss Chris’ pays its respects to Gene Vincent and really shows The Wise Guyz at the top of their game where guitars are flexing much detail and remain light and surefooted, with howls of derision from the backing vocals every once in a while to accentuate this confidence. A notable difference with ‘Hot Summer Nights’  compared to say, the band’s debut album, ‘Don’t Touch My Greasy Hair’ is that the music assumes a greater role over the lyrics when considering the songs ‘Bop Disease’ and ‘Do It Bop’, for example, where the words are surface considerations. Elsewhere, ‘Rude Bad Boy’ introduces another facet to The Wise Guyz’ sound with rhythm and blues edging its way in and lead singer, Chris Bird, showing his range with expertly handled vocals. Sometimes less is more, however, as the high number of tracks would have benefitted from a little trimming because there is a tendency for one or two songs to get lost in the overall mix. With ‘Sad’ nearing the end of this fourth album, and providing another example of the band’s versatility with its ballad-esque approach reflecting on a love departed, The Wise Guyz provide enough wild excitement and drama to warrant a fifth long player when the time is right. For now, ‘Hot Summer Nights’ is more than enough company to keep those limbs boppin’ to the wee small hours.


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If You Give Me One More Try

Terry O'Connel and his Pilots

El Toro

By pulling all of its components together over a number of years to finally arrive at the position where Terry O’Connel felt comfortable to address his line up as Terry O’Connel and his Pilots was the correct decision once the contents of ‘If You Give Me One More Try’ reveal themselves. The manner in which Terry O’Connel and his Pilots piece together twelve songs of authentic rockabilly that really takes the listener back to a bygone era is to be greatly admired. Whether from Terry O’Connel’s superbly delivered vocal that is full of character and sounding like one of the country singers during the 50s who jumped on board the rockabilly train once it gained momentum in order to keep up with the changing times, or his Pilots picking and strumming their instruments expertly to arrive at rockin’ delights as ‘Hot Rod Mama’ and ‘Put ‘Em In A Pot’, it would seem that this album has got everything. Having recorded ‘If You Give Me One More Try’ in Sweden, the band certainly has a way of tapping into the genuine features of rockabilly music of the 50s considering the distance historically, but also geographically, as songs such as ‘Say Yes’, ‘Cool It’, ‘Let’s Cut To The Chase’ and, already mentioned, ‘Hot Rod Mama’ are as good as anything that was issued from that rockin’ era. There’s no question of giving Terry O’Connel and his Pilots one more try because this album is as good as it gets when it comes to rockabilly in the 21st century.


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Hits From The Movies

Ricky Fabian

Rhythm Bomb

Setting this out as something resembling a concept album due to drawing its inspiration from movie soundtracks and centring its themes of love and loss around this very idea, Ricky Fabian is an artist willing to push his creativity to the outer edges of the rockin’ scene that he finds himself situated in. There is a sense of early 60s musical styling present, but with enough flashes of the raw and rugged edges of the previous decade to Fabian’s second outing, ‘Hits From The Movies’. In order to experience the latter example described, then head straight for the rockin’ energy of ‘Big Ole Bag’ that really gets under the skin via its at once trembling instrumentation that suddenly explodes during its chorus with Fabian’s vocal equally raw. This fever is contagious as it spreads to ‘Skinny Jeannie’, who just happens to be the centre of attention and someone’s affections, greatly illustrated by its slinking rhythm and bouts of heated passion. The impact of ‘Cindy Cindy’ is immediate with its rhythm sweeping the listener off its feet, but it also reveals a high level of detail in terms of the instrumentation; especially use of piano and for holding a real twang in the guitar that showcases one example of the deeper consideration of the song writing process here. With two duets included and featuring Ruby Ann (‘Hideaway Blues’) and Cherry Casino (‘Sunset Girl’), plus the addition of a wonderful ballad, ‘A Thing Of The Past’, ‘Hits From The Movies’ definitely has something for all those who enjoy the raucous elements of the latter half of the 50s, in addition to the musical developments that started to form after this particular period during the early 60s.


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Piano Pumpin’ Sensation

Chris Girton

El Toro

Rather than producing the easier and more obvious route of a twelve track dedication to his idol, Jerry Lee Lewis, with the ‘Piano Pumpin’ Sensation’ of its title being the dead giveaway, Chris Girton, the man behind the piano keys, offers something else. That something else is twelve cover songs from an assortment of artists and songwriters who made their impact the first time around and have continued to leave a lasting impression on those still interested in such genres of music. Chris Girton just happens to be one of those artists thoroughly intrigued by rock ‘n’ roll’s rich history which, by adding his own spin on the songs selected, his ‘Piano Pumpin’ Sensation’ is now a part of that history. One point to address, however, is that the title of this record is a tad misleading because it’s not just the piano that is central to this album. Once the songs begin to peel away, the listener will hopefully identify the qualities held by Chris Girton’s vocal that are at once crooning during Darren Spears’ ‘Forever’s Much Too Long’, and the next keeping abreast with the rockin’ and expressive piano of ‘Break Up’. Skeet McDonald’s ‘What A Lonesome Life It’s Been’ is resurrected with a mild piano accompaniment and Girton’s vocal leading the narrative compellingly. By closing the set with an admirable version of ‘Don’t Know What You’ve Got (Until You Lose It)’, which falls somewhere between the two stools of Elvis and Eddie Cochran’s more reflective moments, the preferred option when it comes to ‘Piano Pumpin’ Sensation’ are the quieter, more reflective moments that really hold sway and suggest a strong option for a future long player.


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The Space Sessions

The Satellites

El Toro

Taking the listener on an orbit around planet bop is The Satellites with their ‘The Space Sessions’ long player. Steeped in an authentic rockabilly sound with added blues, The Satellites offer eleven songs to keep those entertained who are willing to accompany them on this 50s-styled galactic mission rocketing back in time. First stop is the foot-tapping rhythm of appropriately titled ‘Satellite Bop’,  which then sees the band take a slight detour with a cover of The Dreamers melding of doo-wop and rockabilly ‘Ding Dong (Du-Wadi-Wadi)’. The choice of cover songs remains impeccable throughout and offers a voyage of discovery for those looking to delve further in relation to the history books, with The Satellites applying a highly engaging version of ‘Farmer John’ and followed by a bit of the blues with a slightly pepped up take of Joe Hill Louis’ ‘Keep Your Arms Around Me’. Despite this album being heavily reliant on covers, ‘The Space Sessions’ never dips in terms of its overall appeal because the band has clearly done its homework by selecting a few obscurities that are no doubt hugely popular with The Satellites, but also difficult to find in relation to their original 45 status. For those looking to be transported back to a 50s era, then The Satellites ‘The Space Sessions’ is a journey worth taking.


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Rockin’ With Wanda Jackson

Wanda Jackson

El Toro

It’s not all about the modern rockin’ scene at El Toro Records as, more often than not, the label issues a variety of albums with songs from the historical vaults, and then applies a fresh theme to such releases in relation to the pioneers of rockabilly for example. In focus here is Wanda Jackson, who doesn’t really need any introduction regarding her contributions to the genres of country and rockabilly, as well as her recent collaborative work with Jack White of The White Stripes. The double album  ‘Rockin’ With Wanda Jackson’ is divided into two halves; side one covers the years 1956-58 and Wanda Jackson’s recordings with Capitol Records and, during this time, the newly opened Capitol Tower in Hollywood, before a subsequent move to Capitol Records, Nashville, centring on the periods 1960-61. With detailed liner notes supplied by Dave Penny covering Wanda Jackson’s musical whereabouts preceding the Capitol Records years, before getting to the nitty-gritty of these major recording years, and then concluding with recent activities in the recording arena, ‘Rockin’ With Wanda Jackson’ offers not only an in-depth look at the recorded works of Wanda Jackson, but great value considering the sixty-plus tracks listed, with additional bonus material from live performances at the Town Hall Party. Blessed with striking good looks and a voice to die for, Wanda Jackson was the equivalent to any of the male stars of the 50s and 60s periods; hence the Queen of Rockabilly title bestowed upon her. With songs aplenty, the proof is here for all to hear to back such a claim, but even if Wanda Jackson had recorded a mere handful of songs, such a small number would still have been enough to create the same impact that she made. As said, there’s much to absorb here because these delights will get under your skin and remain there for days, weeks, months later with ‘Money Honey’, ‘Rock Your Baby’, ‘Let’s Have A Party’, ‘Stupid Cupid’, ‘Hard-Headed Woman’, ‘Fujiyama Mama’ to start with. Just like the star at the centre of this piece, ‘Rockin’ With Wanda Jackson’ has so much to offer and is as good as any place to start regarding the music of Wanda Jackson.


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By My Side

Carolina & her Rhythm Rockets

Rhythm Bomb

The Second coming of Carolina & her Rhythm Rockets has been eagerly anticipated on this side of the fence after creating a bit of a stir with their debut album approximately two years ago. With the new addition titled, ‘By My Side’, the thirteen compositions on offer – all original apart from the inclusion of a solitary cover – almost reads as a list of the trials and tribulations associated with one, or any number of relationship(s). With no word of this being a concept album, the songs, as mentioned earlier, certainly appear to favour such a direction. However, no matter the overall intentions of ‘By My Side’, there is definite soul-searching afoot whether trying to repair the gaping wound left by ‘Hole In My Heart’, expressed with a mixture of confusion and heartache, and then proceeding to neatly tie in the searching impression given by the band’s creative playing during the rather sublime ‘I’ll Find A Way’. Where this latest album differs in comparison to its debut is that Carolina & her Rhythm Rockets sound more confident in their stride, by throwing a few variations to their overall sound. While such variations are subtle, there is one noticeable curveball and that arrives with the bluesy lead track, ‘By My Side’, consisting of slide guitar and powerhouse vocals, and is just short of a harmonica to complete the full blues set. From such a terrific beginning, the quality of the song writing retains a consistency as demonstrated by the short and perky steps of ‘You Don’t Care’, with a lead guitar sounding full of improvisation, to the Sunday afternoon vibe surrounding ‘Pretty Baby’ despite the tension held by its lyrics. When there is disruption, however, it arrives in a compelling holler via ‘I’m Gonna Leave You’ and a series of vocal hiccups during ‘Jungle King’, that provides further evidence of a band beginning to feel at ease with themselves and allowing for a few ideas to flourish. Overall, ‘By My Side’ runs like a well-oiled machine as it’s tighter in its focus yet allows for a fresh layer of creativity to be applied to parts of its contents that leads to genuine progression in the Carolina & her Rhythm Rockets sound, and there is no better sense of achievement than that.


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Good Taste In Bad Friends

Crystal & Runnin' Wild

Rhythm Bomb

With no prior knowledge of what to expect once ‘Good Taste In Bad Friends’ was inserted into the CD player, one could be forgiven for thinking Aqua for the rockabilly market when weighing up the kitsch imagery and actual contents inside. Such a suggestion is not too far from the truth, however, as three out of the four band members – Crystal Dawn (vocals), Johnny Trash (drums) and Patrick Ouchene (guitar) – have participated in talent contests throughout Europe, with the Eurovision Song Contest being one of the most notable. Far closer to such a description, however, is the assortment of styles sewn into the majority of songs on offer here. This eclectic mix of tastes no doubt stems from the band’s already established involvement with various televised contests where influences from rockabilly, rock ‘n’ roll, pop and a comedic singing routine have been chosen as part of their individual repertoires. When it comes to the contents of ‘Good Taste In Bad Friends’, the album is predominantly rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll, but with the band carefully and skilfully bleeding other influences into the songs. Take, for example, the roaring two-sided rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll of ‘What A Way To Die’, containing some of the wildest guitar playing you are likely to hear this side of the modern rockin’ scene. Sassy vocals from Crystal Dawn jumpstarts ‘Up Above My Head’, which brings an instant smile that grows close to Cheshire Cat sized proportions once the male vocals add their contributions to the narrative, with one comedic turn by way of Johnny Trash, and it really makes for great listening. The same impression can be applied to ‘Blood On The Kitchen Floor’ with its twang of the guitar providing that lonesome desert feel, in addition to the theatrical delivery of one vocal in particular that creates an awkward position of not knowing whether to laugh or cry considering the grave nature of the lyrics. These compelling traits however, are also the albums undoing because by the time ‘Bad Boy’ arrives it all becomes too much, with the exaggerated second vocal starting to grate somewhat, and the shift in styles becoming muddled (‘Oh By Jingo’). A shortened version of ‘Good Taste In Bad Friends’ would have benefitted the competing interests of Crystal & Runnin’ Wild more greatly because, despite the talent on display here, various ideas become overworked and end up losing their initial appeal.


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The Kabooms

The Kabooms

Rhythm Bomb

A vintage sound from a vintage era but one now firmly planted in 2015, The Kabooms see their debut album released on Rhythm Bomb Records. Clearly passionate about their choices of gear when committing their songs to the recording process, judging by the detailed inventory of equipment listed in the liner notes, The Kabooms is a band that really cares about its craft. From such detailed information, it’s no surprise that the band’s own compositions pack the same level of detail. Less obvious though, is the actual direction of the music generated by this Spanish combo. Despite peddling an authentic rockabilly sound, it’s one that is far less obvious in terms of which direction it is likely to take. For example, don’t expect a searing sound to come hurling from your speakers as perhaps expected given the band’s title. If anything, this album is more concerned with taking a controlled approach to its song writing, but with enough suggestion of a lurking wildness just below its surface. The song ‘Black Days’ is one such example where its tempo remains at a medium pace yet manages to generate a sense of unease via its raspy vocal and various subtle hints given by the instruments. Lead vocalist Matt Olivera sounds like a hoarser version of Darrel Higham during the wishful thinking of ‘Only Mine’, before changing track and adding vocal hiccups to the skulking rhythm of ‘Pretty Baby’. By shoehorning fourteen tracks into a time just under thirty minutes is some feat, but one that is all the more remarkable when considering the amount of detail compressed into such a short running time that should see a high level of repeat visits as ‘The Kabooms’ will leave you thinking long after its brief stay.


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KILLSWITCH!

The Rip 'Em Ups

Rhythm Bomb

Been a long time since we rock and rolled, but what a difference the passing of time can make. From going from one of our least favourite acts at the Rockabilly Rave of two years ago to a position of firm favourites here at FLW, it’s definitely a case of eat humble pie on our behalf. Quite literally dropping the bomb musically, the dish served up by The Rip ‘Em Ups with their debut album ‘KILLSWITCH!’ is absolutely incendiary.  From the opening blast of ‘I Wanna Love You’ and the stylishly named Javier De La Rosa setting the temperature to max with raw and passionate vocals and pinpoint guitar, in addition to the able hands of Jose ‘Watts’ Rodriguez (guitar), Edgar Villarreal (bass), Santos De Leon (drums) and Marco Palos (sax), it’s authentic rock ‘n’ roll with a serious attitude but one that adds various spices to its sounds à la ‘Spitfire’, which also contains a volatile narrative to match. Title song ‘Kill Switch’ has a rebellious streak, expressed by a straight instrumental with bonus points awarded for its dynamic sax and almost too hot to handle guitars. The difference with The Rip ‘Em Ups first long player and the already mentioned live experience is that the songs sown here sound far clearer in their overall delivery, as there is less of the fuzzy sameness which dogged their live set. The energy of a Jerry Lee Lewis or Little Richard in their heydays is definitely in existence when hearing the contents of ‘KILLSWITCH!’, but it is the decision to adopt other approaches to their music which benefits greatly. Such differences can be heard during ‘The Game’ where the vocal is allowed to take centre stage. Also, the rhythm is slowed somewhat during ‘Wild Savage Woman’, but there is nothing lost in terms of the wildness of The Rip ‘Em Ups as the song possesses a sultry side, only this is expressed in a more controlled manner, especially with the line, “Wild savage woman with blood red eyes” that sums up everything you need to know here. By tossing in joyous sounding numbers such as ‘Bailamos Rock N Roll’ during its end credits, The Rip ‘Em Ups leave nothing but a feeling of being completely bowled over. Taken by surprise most definitely, not in terms of the band’s technical abilities, but there is less of the ear-splitting intensity of the live act and more of a considered and diverse approach, which still retains a thrilling edge yet it is one that transforms The Rip ‘Em Ups in to a band genuinely worth spending time with. Absolute dynamite!



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