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