Saturday, April 22, 2017

Klax "Last Zyborg"

(Crazy Love Records 2017)

The 4 Tribes
Zyborg Coming
Rock Salt
Queen's Control
Broken Mirror
Last Zyborg
Silent Bell

I'm kicking off this review with a blurb from the band themselves....and then I shall wax lyrical about what I think. So, from Klax: "This is a very powerful and aggressive release. The album also tells a back story set in a polluted and corrupt future for human kind. There are 3 tribes who vote globally and one Human Admiral (Kernt) who enforces all law. The tribes consist of lazy but intelligent humans, Androids who are used for basic chores of slave labor and Cyborgs who are also slave laborers but for more difficult jobs. The Androids have free will and are always upset with their rates and working conditions. They have been rebelling for decades and are led by a Gynoid Queen. Admiral Kernt and Dr. Zyaut have designed an artificial organism fused with it's robotic shell. This new design should be absent of free will and free thought. It will merely be a mindless slave. Although, it will still consist of much attention to detail and can work for a 100 years without rest or maintenance. The Admiral has rallies and promotions that are needed for support and votes to pass approval of all 3 tribes. He has Dr. Zyaut awaken their 1st prototype "Zyborg". As soon as he awakes, he destroys everything in sight and shows plenty of free thought and free will..."
Now that the copying and pasting duties have been taken care of, what we have here is a rare breed indeed...a psychobilly concept album! Artistically, the cover art strikes me as a kind of Krewmen/Klingonz mashup.  Musically, this mashup continues. This is a harder, more threatening sounding Klax to the sounds to be heard on their 2012 album Recycle-Billy. Psychobilly slap bass and drums laden with cyber punk guitar and vocals. It's like a soundtrack to every post apocalyptic film you've ever seen.  But it doesn't go so far into cyber punk waters that the psychobilly gets lost in the mix. Klax have found the perfect blend between the two. All instruments are perfectly balanced too in a way that all are played in audible conjunction with one and other. They've really caught that menacing sound in keeping with the subject matter throughout. The all-important lyrics are included in the booklet too so you could say it's also the first psychobilly audio book with each song being a chapter. Anyway, to sum up, what Klax have released here is a pounding, slap bass driven psychobilly/cyber punk stomper minus those bullshit horror/theatrical vocals that are all too common and fucking boring. See that psychobilly bands? Take a leaf out of Klax's can still sound dangerous and sing in your "actual" voice. The album is out now on all platforms but fuck streaming...go and buy a physical copy from everyone's favourite German sexpot Guido Neumann. 
The O'Prez

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Gamblers Mark "Dirty Needles"

(Gamblers Mark 2017)

13th Hour (Intro)
Dirty Needles
Long Summer
I'll Never Know
Temporary Defeat
Madame Ching
Black Stilettos
Safety Word
We're Desperate (Featuring Jackie Mendez)
Looking In Your Window (Featuring The Flashbax)

A while back Gamblers Mark posted a taster of what was to come on their then forthcoming album Dirty Needles. The song in question was Long Summer. It was a live-in-the-studio rendition of the song on the Loaded Bomb YouTube channel as part of their "Live at D.O'B. SOUND" series of videos. Now, I look forward to a lot of new releases, and 2017 is quite the year for new releases. But I was more than looking forward to this release. I was excited about it. This one song went straight into my ranks of all-time favourites. It also begged the question though, could the boys have more songs up their sleeves on this album that gave me such an immediate "fucking hell!" moment? Or, would the rest pale in comparison?! Well....there are "fucking hell!" moments in abundance on this album. I'm not going to single out songs and talk about them as I find that makes for boring reading. Besides, some songs have been creeping up on me and overtaking the others that gave me that initial ear-pleasure. The lads have written and produced an album that the makers of Red Bull would be proud of. It's blazing maniacal stuff but played with a skill and dexterity that brings me back to that "fucking hell!" moment every time I listen. But the lads throw in a few curve balls here and there with a couple of ska and new wave songs. I like ska and new wave. These lads can do no wrong on this album. All self-penned except for a cover of X's "We're Desperate" and what always impresses me is when a band can combine lyrics that actually have some substance to them with music that's powered by a 16 horsepower slap bass and drums backbeat and still be thought-provoking. There are a couple of songs on here that are high speed but still maintain an air of melancholia. I love melancholia me! I love this album!! If you've read the track listing above (and if you haven't then you're a half-arsed reader) you'll notice some guests in the song titles. The guests in question are The Flashbax and Jackie Mendez...The Flashbax are an offshoot of Gamblers Mark and a melting pot of different musical stylings and Jackie Mendez is on vocals in the aforementioned Flashbax. See? Not only are my they're educational as well. Now then, as I alluded to earlier, 2017 is quite the year for new releases, I've been looking forward to a lot of em. One or two were utter disappointments so won't be gracing these pages, but this one, this one is head and shoulders above a lot of the stuff released so far this year and has surpassed stuff I've had in my ledger-o-favourites for the past 30 years. 
The O'Prez

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Them Old Crap "Galeria Fantasma"

(Broken Neck Records 2017)

Breath Your Life
Crucified By Love
Constant Sorrow
By My Side
Whisper Help
Make Up
Lean On Me
Guerreiros Do Submundo
Barutcha Kreputcha

I like a bit of Bluegrass me...or in this case...Undergrass. At least that's what Brazilian trio Them Old Crap call themselves on their Facebook page! And fuck me, but it suits em. The lads have taken Bluegrass in a whole new, somewhat darker direction. This album hits the spot in a lot of different ways. The artwork really suit the sounds emanating from me sexy Sennheisers. Tis a 16 page booklet with all the lyrical delights within and features some fine photography. The musicianship coming from the hands and hearts of these three boys is off the fucking chart! (There's a host of guest musicians on here too which just makes the talent to be admired more abundant). It veers into gypsy territory every now and again and to my ears at least, maybe even into indie/rock territory. I think the latter may be due to the vocal stylings of frontman Eduardo Ribeiro. Well whatever the sounds are I love em. There's an honesty to the lyrics that's so often lost in music. I mean, in a world where lyrical content consists of "ooooh baby etc.", it makes a welcome change to sit back and listen to actual stories being told through the medium of song. Heartfelt, down-to-earth lyrics that'll have you singing along one minute and sitting back and listening intently the next. Now I know it's only March but this is one of thee best albums I've heard this year. See? I'm not all about psychobilly and pretending the side of my leg is a slap bass...though I did slap the side of my leg-bass a lot whilst listening to this. Them Old Crap are anything but crap. They're the.....anti-crap! 
The O'Prez

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Pitmen "Back To The Pit"

(Crazy Love Records 2016)

Always On The Run
Grab Life By The Balls
You Are Not My Friend
Fifteen Dead
Zombie Rumble
Please Don't Call Me Baby
Hot Rod Hotel
You're The Reason Mommy Drinks
The Lonesome Boatman
Schnitzel Mit Kartoffelsalat
The House Of The Rising Sun
Baltimore Fire
One More Day

Jaysus Almighty it's been 16 years since the last Pitmen album. But judging by the heads on em they must have been downing gallons of youth syrup. The main reason the Pitmen stand out for me is they have a touch of Irish Folk to their sound. Indeed on their two previous albums there have been some finely executed cover versions of Irish Folk ditties...and this new album features a stomping rendition of Finbar Furey's The Lonesome Boatman. Front-man Christian had an Irish Folk outfit called Airím with Susanne Böhler and the eponymous 1999 album takes pride of place in my CD collection. So the new album...what's the craic with that I hear you cry? Well, Christian certainly knows how to pen an excellent song. He's written the bulk of the songs on here with Holger flexing his quill and his missus Carrie Donovan coming in on biro duties too. Now, before I go on, I want to bring up one negative. The booklet. It's just a single double-sided insert. I always like a proper booklet including lyrics. Especially for bands where English isn't their first language. But in this case it's pure aesthetics as the vocals are clear and the lyrics are perfectly annunciated. I think this is in no small part due to Christian's love of Irish music. He sings with an Irish accent for fuck sake the big German fecker. But anyway, in amongst the classic psychobilly fare, you'll also hear banjo and fiddle to give things a nice céilíbilly twist. The Pitmen have always been a melting pot of influences and this has never been as more evident as it is on this release. It has all the music I love all blended together in that Pitmen-esque style. Equal parts psychobilly, folk from both sides of the Atlantic, hard-as-fuck neo rockabilly and Celtabilly (I made that last genre up). The production and mixing is immaculate as is the instrumentation. Throw Christian's vocals on top of that and well, this album just shines. For a genre that's been around now for the bones of 40 years with 100s of sound-a-like bands, it's always refreshing to hear new output from a band like the Pitmen who are instantly recognisable owing in no small part to the fact that they don't sound like anyone else. They brought something new to the table back in 1998 and this album carries on that fine tradition.
The O'Prez

Sunday, March 5, 2017

The Phantom Cowboys "Dead Men's Clothes"

(Diogenes Records 2016)

The Hermit
Dead Men's Clothes

Back in 1998 (before the internet made everything so accessible) I took a punt on the album Down And Out At The Club Cruella based on the suave image of the band on the front cover (which made them stand out from their cohorts), the album title and the song titles. You couldn't "try before you buy" back then. The whole package smacked of all things dark and voodoobilly. The sounds lived up to the expectations. I've been revisiting that album while I awaited the arrival of the new EP. Voodoo Bunnies is still one of my favourite songs of all time. The only thing missing from this song is a video laden with the aforementioned Voodoo Bunnies (which in turn would put to the test if Juan Sheet is a legend or a liar). So, on to the return of The Phantom Cowboys. Did they pick up where the excellent album left off? Yes! Yes they did!! Their distinctive sound is still 100% intact. Gothic-tinged neo rockabilly with a sophistication that matches their attire. If The Phantom Cowboys went under your radar first time around then don't make that mistake again. As clichéd as it sounds, this really does deserve to be in every self respecting (insert first word)billy collection. Dark, clever, melodious and urbane as fuck. The Phantom Cowboys are everything Dave Vanian's Phantom Chords wished they could have been.
The EP is available on CD and 7" vinyl and while you're at it add the début album to your basket too. Links to all things Phantom Cowboys below...
The O'Prez

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Bad Luck Gamblers "Casino Maldito"

(Hot Jail Records 2016)

Casino Maldito
Like A Bat
Terror Train
Rusty T-Bucket
Thylanicus Attack
Somebody Stole My Pet Possum
Drinking With The Devil
Shoulder Mount
No Chips No Chicks

The prize for longest time between albums must surely go to Brazil's Bad Luck Gamblers. Their first album "Don't Bet On Us" was released back in 2007 for Jaysus sake. Now that they've finally got off their arses and went back in to the studio, was it worth the wait? Too fuckin' right it was. The first album was a rough diamond...this is a finely polished one. There's no letup at all with the tempo of this thing. It's all speed limit breaking stuff. Maniacal is the word I'm looking for. I can here a twist of that Reverend Horton Heat guitar sound mixed in with some South American overtones. The trio of musicians extraordinaire have unleashed an album with 10 ditties of musical dexterity that feature some nice touches in the studio which make the listener sit up and take notice. The chord progressions give the songs the gold medal winning honours of being excellently executed psycho-rockabilly with an air of malevolence. The Bad Luck Gamblers make me proud to be part of a scene where real talent is order of the day, unlike the auto-tuned, rehashed, unoriginal over-produced bollocks that clogs up the airwaves to placate the millions of mass media brainwashed sheep that think Little Mix are a "band".

The O'Prez

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Batmobile "Brand New Blisters"

(Butler Records 2017)

Rock & Roll And Alcohol
Save My Soul
Never Gonna Stop
Motherfuckin' Hippie
Spider Sylvia
From The Get Go
Wild Wild Man
Fucked Up
It's Rock & Roll
Rest In Peace
Big Bob

Ever since Jeroen Haamers and the boys touched my ears inappropriately back in 1985, I've always felt that Batmobile were/are thee quintessential purveyors of that European psychobilly/neo rockabilly sound. Then when they came out with their fanzine solely aimed at the Irish audience, Bonk O'Beat, well, that was it for me. Many's the night I spent shaking my fist vigorously at the TV screen watching their VHS tapes. My emotion was such that there wasn't a tissue left in the shops for miles around. Batmobile released a batch of studio albums between 1985 and 1997 that I loved in equal measure. I thought we had a steady relationship. Then nothing. Sure, they released the odd track here and there, a split album, Jeroen had a side project, there were some YouTube clips of him doing acoustic solo numbers, but it just wasn't the same. I wanted a Batmobile gangbang. Just the four of us, like it used to be. Then came the teasing hints there might be a new album. I didn't pay too much attention as more often than not, these things never come to fruition. But fuck me pink only it did happen. Twenty years after Welcome To Planet Cheese the lads are back with Brand New Blisters. Jeroen wrote me a love missive asking if we could rekindle our romance and he got the record company to send me a review copy of the new album. I in turn purchased every tissue for miles around once more and bought a Fleshlight and awaited the album's arrival. Now for the serious bit...I got the album a few weeks ago and have been listening to it on and off ever since. I made some notes upon the first listen to see if my impressions would change because I wasn't too enamoured by it on first listen. I noted it was more of a rock and roll Batmobile as opposed to the neo/psycho Batmobile of yesteryear. However, the more I listened the more these first impressions began to fade and the more my love for EVERY fucking song on the album began to grow. It IS that classic Batmobile sound albeit with a rougher rock and roll edge as I alluded to in my initial notes.  It can't be easy for a band like Batmobile to go back into the studio with 15 new self-penned songs. I mean, they have a back catalogue of psychobilly classics unlike no other band, so they must have been a bit apprehensive about how new material would be received by the hordes who have a set ideology of what they expect from Batmobile. As bands progress, and especially after such a long time between albums, some bands can progress so much that they actually alienate their audience. I had no preconceived notions whatsoever about this album. What I did know was that I'd either love it or loathe it. I grew to love it. Now I can't get enough of it. The thing is full of brand new Batmobile classics. But they're not relying on past glories here. They're not simply rehashing that trademark sound that made them so popular. This stuff is fresh as fuck. Yes it sounds like Batmobile, of course it does, they wrote every song on the album, but it's not just a half-arsed attempt to make a few quid off the back of their previous output. Let me put it this way, it's like how every Batmobile album that came before this one sounded different, but you knew it was Batmobile...well this carries on that tradition. Christ Almighty this a fucking stellar return to the studio from Batmobile. I haven't listened to anything over and over again this much in a long time. It actually makes me happy! Maybe because it can transport me back through the decades of previous Batmobile albums and the memories that go along with them and then beam me right back to the present where I realise what I'm listening to is a new release from a band whose music I have always loved and whose members I have always held in the highest regard. 
The album will be released on March 3rd and is available now to pre-order from the Batmobile webshop on shiny beermat and sexy vinyl formats. Links below as usual....
The O'Prez