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Shake That Thing

Kieron McDonald

Rhythm Bomb

Fourth solo album for Australian Kieron McDonald who normally can be found fronting the Flatfoot Shakers. Latest album ‘Shake That Thing’ is pretty much business as usual with Kieron recreating a genuine rockabilly sound with leading contenders for such a description via the snappy twang of opening song ‘Rockabilly High’; the lonesome ‘The Knock On My Door’ which is instantly kicked into touch by the positive upturn in fortunes of ‘Goodbye Lonesome’, before pleading once more for ‘A Little Love’ in his life backed by a rockin’ rhythm. Such knowhow when creating a long player full of original material is largely down to Kieron McDonald’s longstanding when it comes to the rockin’ scene, only this time there is additional support and creative input from fellow Aussies Hank’s Jalopy Demons and Ezra Lee. It would appear that the additional input of these musicians has added to the slightly darker edges and wilder elements that have a habit of appearing at various stages (‘The Devil’s Eyes’, ‘I’m The King of The Road’ and ‘Why’) not to mention the piano trickery of Ezra Lee capturing an old-timey feel during the excellent ‘She Means Nothing To Me’. With such good company in the rear, Kieron McDonald doesn’t forget to shine as this is after all his stage and where you can hear his influence all over the reflective ‘She Thinks of You’ and relentless beat of ‘Go Go Girl’ for example. A full pot of original material and one that requires your undivided attention because ‘Shake That Thing’ is just that record to keep the rockabilly flame truly burning.


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Gone For Lovin

Vince & the Sun Boppers

Rhythm Bomb

Highly experienced in their line of work, Vince & the Sun Boppers issue a twelve-track album full of original material. Borrowing a couple of players from Dale Rocka and the Volcanoes and The Ballroom Kings, this is not entirely a newly assembled line-up as there have been previous releases elsewhere. The album itself has been described as capturing the sound and spirit of 1950s Sun Studio when music really was king. Fast forward to the present however, and such an assertion is justified when hearing the authentic rockabilly of ‘Gone For Lovin’ captured by producers Axel and Ike. Whether it’s the charming stroll of ‘Lone No More’ or the alluring draw of ‘Devil Eyes’ Vince & the Sun Boppers is a band comfortable and most certainly confident in their abilities as this music is quality assured. For those seeking their rockabilly with a bit more urgency, then ‘Gone For Lovin’ knows how to rock with the best of them as does ‘Dance With Sally’ which possesses a gritty edge throughout. The 50s originals can never be surpassed, and that is certainly not the intention of ‘Gone For Lovin’. However, Vince & the Sun Boppers do a fine job of recapturing that ‘special’ sound and energy with a series of tracks from a time now sadly consigned to the history books.


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Space Invaders

The Kings of Outer Space

Greystone Records

Having avoided the prospect of a truly gruesome demise via the walking dead in the heart of the West Country (see accompanying video to earlier single ‘Zombie Walk’), The Kings of Outer Space made their escape in order to add the finishing touches to their third long player. While it may seem business as usual considering the title of the band’s new album ‘Space Invaders’ – the obsession with UFOs and space travel continues  – this is a fresh start of sorts for The Kings of Outer Space as the band hail a new line-up, with frontman Giggsy being the sole survivor, as well as switching to a new home with Greystone Records. Despite the changes, The Kings of Outer Space remain difficult to pin down in terms of their overall sound, which is always a positive due to embracing elements from a variety of genres – predominately rockabilly and psychobilly yet with strong ties to post punk and to a certain degree mid-80s indie obscurities. It makes for a flavoursome musical fest without ever sounding muddled, but where latest album ‘Space Invaders’ differs from their previous albums is that you can hear a considerable amount of space between the ideas in the songs where ideas sound less hurried and the songs benefit due to being given more time to breathe. Despite these noticeable differences the band retain their identity as there is no seismic shift in style(s) as ‘Space Invaders’ still sounds like a Kings of Outer Space album with rockabilly running ragged through ‘Cosmic Boy’, to the almost western film score parking up during ‘Remainder Men’ that lingers long in the memory afterwards with lines such as, “When the sun goes down for the very last time, You’ll never see me again”. Bookending the other side of this is the garage rock of ‘Lucky escape’ that reveals an upturn in fortunes for the character at the centre of this song. It’s not all positive, however, as the title track attempts a similar sounding feat but, in the process, sounds tepid in comparison and tired as far as the fresh ideas go. Thankfully ‘Crocodiles’ snaps its heels and wakes up the creative department once more by way of the ska-driven beat and creative use of the title serving as a metaphor for the bitter side of life. ‘Ciao!’ reverts to film score territory once more only this time involving a duet with Giggsy and Lula D, and it’s a song that never pulls any punches when pointing the finger of blame for this particular relationship demise. Despite various similarities in sound, The Kings of Outer Space has delivered quite possibly their strongest musical statement yet, which benefits due to less haste but also by incorporating new ideas where the lyrics in particular take five minutes to live with humanity rather than partying with little green men from dusk till dawn. ‘Space Invaders’ could just be the ticket to launch a whole new series of missions for The Kings of Outer Space where non-intergalactic travel is just as essential as the missions to outer space.


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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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