Monday, 26 November 2007

21st century Psychobilly

21st century Psychobilly!
Like a twisted hybrid of 1950’s B-movies, comic books, science fiction references and rockabilly played with the fury and aggression of old school punk, Psychobilly rears its rotting head to rise once again in the 21st century.
Since its origination in England during the 1980’s a lot has changed, most notably the fact that the movement is now more popular in Germany, Japan and America than in ol’ Blighty, however some new English bands are spearheading the revival. Here are some reviews of the demos of the next generation of psychotic rockers!
Tazmanian Devils - Evil Boppin’
Described as teenage zombie rock ‘n’ roll from Naumberg, Germany. These two lads and a female drummer pay homage to the original Psychobilly movement of the 80’s. The guitar is undistorted and rhythmical, coupled with a steady paced rockabilly rhythm section and squeaky, growling vocals with clichéd lyrics about zombies and skeletons.
The vocal style and lyrical subject matter may not be for everyone but is compensated by very catchy songs and excellent production. For fans of bands like Batmobile and The Meteors, this band are certainly not pushing boundaries, but are an excellent homage to true Psychobilly. Worth checking out live too!

Judder and the Jack Rabbits – S/T
These young fellas from Norwich play a dark and moody style of Psychobilly. The guitar is distorted and slow to medium paced, whilst singer John’s vocals are like screams of despair, his hardcore style voice is similar to that of AFI's Davey Havok. The influence of second generation psycho bands like Tiger Army is clear, as the songs are more like melodic punk with gothic overtones than classic fifties songs. Indeed there is little to no evidence of country or blues influence in the music. The structure of songs like ‘Looked at me’ is typical of American punk, but the double bass and strained sound of guitars and vocals give it a certain originality that is refreshing. This band’s new record ‘All In’ is out now.

Koma Katz

Brighton based psychobilly 2005-2007, this music video is worth a watch, there is a long horror style introduction.

Second Hand Koffin – Zombies on Parade ep
These teenagers from Shoreham, Sussex, play chilled out, slow country styled Rockabilly grooves with humorous lyrics crooned by vocalist Freddie. ‘Zombies on Parade’ is a pantomime style comic song, followed by the excellent ‘Big Joe’ which has a fantastically catchy riff coupled with amusing lyrics about a bully called Joe. This is followed by the more gothic, modern style Psychobilly song ‘Second Hand Koffin,’ and my personal favourite ‘My Bride’. There is certainly varied output of material for this band, and they do well to incorporate the comic element that is frequently neglected by modern bands of the genre. The demo reveals some budding talent that if nurtured could prove to offer some very promising outputs in the future.
Henry and the Bleeders – Switchblade Rockabilly
These Bedford Silly-billies are definitely one of the best of the new breed. This ep opens with the high energy, real gone, redneck rockin’ track with highly humorous lyrics about toothless wives ‘Hillbilly in a Psycho band.’ They balance the catchy country melodies of Rockabilly perfectly with the high octane frantic strumming of punk rock. This is followed by a predictable cover of Eddie Cochran’s ‘20 flight Rock’ which although good, doesn’t stand out from the millions of other versions of the song that have preceded it. The third song ‘wrong side of the tracks’ shows how the band can do slowed down style Psychobilly with haunting guitar ringing over a steady rhythm. Singer Hughes has a wider vocal range than many singers who merely scream or growl, and the vocals and guitar are complemented by a saxophonist whose contribution is never intrusive to the overall sound.

Frenzy – ace café
Saturday 18th February 2007
Tonight the Ace Café is filled with a motley bunch of skinheads, rockers and psychobillies, vintage cars and motorcycles are lined up outside, and its hard to see if much has changed since rockers would congregate here in the old times of pilgrimages to Brighton and bloodshed on the beach.
First band on are Bedford Psychobilly newcomers Henry and The Bleeders. These young geezers are top of their game at the moment, their sound balances punk aggression perfectly with the catchy pop sensibilities of rockabilly, making good use of the unique contribution that saxophone, double bass and undistorted guitar can offer, thus putting a lot of the new breed fashion orientated psycho bands to shame. The audience was still getting pissed up and wasn’t ready for much dancing, however a few mini bouts of wrecking broke out, whilst the band dished out a few covers such as Eddie Cochran’s ‘20 Flight Rock’ and Peanuts Wilson’s ‘cast iron arm’ They finish with their fast paced wrecking tune ‘Hillbilly in a Psycho band’ by which time the audience have had a taste and are eager for the main helping! A brilliant new band well worth checking out.
Next up were Oi! boys Resistance 77, a bunch of skinheads and punks start pogoing about and jumping into each other down the front as the band rips through some perfectly catchy street punkage the way mother used to make. Too many Oi bands go all out on the aggro and forget the fact that a song needs to be catchy and listenable, not these old boys, a maturity of song writing is evident from songs like ‘punk rock songs’ and these guys have plenty of experience between them, having members from established punk and Oi! bands such as Menace. They whip out a couple of boot boy classics to get the crowd going like Cock SParrer’sEngland Belongs to Me!” and it works a treat!
Headliners FRENZY are one of the bands from the wave of eighties Psychobilly, whose catchy, progressive, and unique sound has survived the test of time. As well as having more to offer than a simple combination of rockabilly and punk, the lyrics also communicate some poignant political points, which are often neglected by other bands of the genre.
They open with the poppy psycho classic ‘robot riot’ the lyrics of which describe a mechanised revolution of a robot underclass in the future. They go on to drop in such classics as anti war song ‘I see red’, ‘clockwork toy’ and an alternate version of one of my favourite songs ‘cry or die’ The audience laps it up, from the amphetamine fuelled hyper rockin’ classics to their modern heavier but slightly slower songs. The lumbering psychobillies continue beating the shit out of each other even when they do a cheesy cover of Australian pop punkabillies The Living End. The atmosphere of the gig was great, despite some friendly abuse being exchanged between the audience and bass slapping front man Steve Whitehouse “you lot got too much pent up aggression” he comments as several psychobillies floor a skinhead and preceded to pile on top of him “should have had a wank before you came out!”

the venue is something of a Mecca for a scene which may be about to make a big come back, despite being very awkward to get to if you don’t live in London or intend to drive back drunk, but its worth the mission if you wanna see some great bands and have a good night.
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