Monday, November 24, 2014

Popa Chubby
"I'm Feelin' Lucky - The Blues According 
To Popa Chubby" (Cleopatra)
DC Larson

There are two ways Popa Chubby can loose the demons that have hounded his every day. One is through the poignant bio he's offered: Abandoned as a child to raise himself, he headed to NYC in hopes of finding something better. All that waited for him, though, was heroin addiction and desperate street living. Blues salvation ultimately lifted him out of wretched bondage.

The other way is to plug in his road-battered Strat and voice tongues-of-flame blues orating,
the sort uttered credibly only by those who've survived.  Popa speaks it fluently.

Recommended "One Leg At a Time," "I'm Feelin' Lucky," "The Way It Is," "Save Your Own Life"

VIDEO "I'm Feelin' Lucky"


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Cheetah Chrome
"Solo" (Plowboy)
DC Larson

Dead Boy grown Cheetah merits renown for prized membership in two elite groups, influential-beyond-their-circumstance '70s Punk guitarists (the Johnnys Thunder and Ramone also ranking), and survivors of that same no tomorrow, needle-packin' era. As these '95 and 2000 sessions testify the collision-chording, curb-jumping metallic-treble leads, and occasional pensively picked articulation we all recall from CBGB days of legend rise to rage, still.  Special guest in 2000: Sylvain Sylvain.  

Recommended "No Credit," "Sharky," "Nuthin," "Stare Into the Night"


VIDEO "No Credit"

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Drake Bell
"Ready, Steady, Go!" (Surfdog)

DC Larson

Should one need reminding that ours is a world without justice, reflect that this little style/zero substance CD will doubtless sell better than many superior efforts - the type produced through blood and sweat by hardworking, true believing musicians who've watched many a-midnight dissolve into grey dawn as they've kept alive American musics, in the rough process touching legacies greater than any one man.

And then, there's Drake Bell. He hits all the notes, but he's far too callow, bland, and superficial to seem any more than a tourist. Of course, it's possible that he's so under the sway of career choreographers and image manipulators that this calculated disc masks a real rocker straining to stand free. (Recall that John Mellencamp began recording as airbrushed ruffian Johnny Cougar.)

Drake's next CD may prove his vindication. Surprise us all, man.

Recommended "Bitchcraft"

VIDEO "Bitchcraft"

Danny B. Harvey / Mysti Moon
"Hell Cat Stomp" (Rock-A-Billy / Cleopatra)

DC Larson

Danny well deserves the acclaim that hails his each waxing. Through decades of chameleonlike stylistic transmogrifications, he has ascended to due in the guitar gods pantheon. Thing is, no matter the genre he's conquered, Danny has maintained the elastic twang and kaleidoscopic hot rodding that fans recognize. Not that many players are instantly identifiable stylists. Easily integrating fleet fingerpicked nods to lauded predecessors like Merle Travis with his own heady ambitions earned Danny 2nd runner up in Guitar Player's 2007 Guitar Hero competition.  

And in erstwhile Devil's Daughter Mysti Moon (she of the glad-all-over golden tones) he has found head-turning complement. This lively outing basically follows in the mold of earlier Danny/Lynda Kay Lonesome Spurs efforts, if perhaps more blues-grounded. Danny's sinewy Tele wends its knowing way through the back-country of Americana to the urgings of acoustic strummings, bass, suitcase-kicked beats, and soaring, swooping voices. Mysti's sweet sutriness and Danny's sometimes growled drawlings gambol and sway in fit fashion.

Five rewardingly gritty originals rub shoulders with seven public domain ramblings. Hear America first.

Recommended "(This Train Is Goin') Straight To Hell," St. James Infirmiry Blues,"
                          "Shake It On Down," "Hell Cat Stomp," "I'm Wild About That Thing,"
                          "Hard Moon Boogie"

VIDEO "(This Train Is Goin') Straight To Hell"

Hillbilly Casino
"Hang Your Stockings...Say Your Prayers" (self)

DC Larson

Hillbilly Casino is celebrated for both its brawny fix on roots sensibilities and principled insistence on pulling hardwood-rockin' into modern times.

"Brutal honky tonk" they call it. .

"I defy you to find five other bands in the U.S. that can play Hank Sr. back-to-back with Motorhead, back-to-back with Ernest Tubb, back-to-back with Tex Ritter, back-to-back with the Ramones," formidable slap-bassist Geoff Firebaugh once delared.

Indeed, the four-man rock boppin' juggernaut has long been a favorite of average working folks, the sort who swarm the honky tonk dance floors of Nashville and beyond, throwing off real-world cares in wild favor of midnight hour rock 'n' roll bacchanalia. They, like Hillbilly Casino, dig the truth that there are only two kinds of songs, good ones and bad ones. Having fun, after all, is more rewarding than obsessing over genre distinctions.

"Hang Your Stockings, Say Your Prayers" was first issued for Xmas 2008, but is again being made available. This captures why Hillbilly Casino is so vital in a music scene that can never have too many sincere street-born minstrels.

Fiery reimaginings of seasonal staples like "Jingle Bells" muscle into taut formation with originals "Santabilly Boogie," "Tangled Up," and "Blue Suede Santa." Ronnie Crutcher's  powerhouse guitar crunches and stings, singer Nic Roulette belts out each tune with unfeigned passion, and Geoff slaps in rugged determination. (Note: Also appearing here is former drummer Andrew Dickson, who has since been replaced by Matt Arnn.)

Turns out traditional holidays aren't just for squares!

VIDEO: "Santabilly Boogie"

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

"Rockin' Together" (Lanark)

DC Larson

Some cats got it...In my first-hand estimation, the Rockats and Robert Gordon prowled the crest of the 70s/80s revival wave. So it's only fitting that in 2014 they all located at Lanark Records - their presence at the surging upstart imprint elevating it in importance. The original 'Cats are here - world-class singer Dibbs Preston, indefatigable six-string rampager Barry Ryan, ever-boppin' upright-slapper Smutty Smiff, and knock-down-with-precision drummer Lewis King/Curt Weiss. Missing is original second guitarist Tim Scott McConnell, though Texas twang maestro Danny B. Harvey - who'd joined for 1983's "Make That Move" (RCA)  - handily ushers memories whilst helping make new ones. Fresh originals race in that welcome old way. This is how rockabilly should be done: fun, freewheeling, and, at turns, gloriously robust. Small wonder that, like Gordon, the Rockats were the toast of Viva Las Vegas. 

Recommended "Rockin' Together," "Pink and Black Cadillac,"
                          "Red-Headed Rockin' Doll," "Tear the Roof Off,"
                          "Old Hickory Road," "Reckless Rebel," "Bad                                     Love," "The Road To Hell"

VIDEO "Pink and Black Cadillac"

Levi Dexter
"Roots Man" (Rhythm Bomb / Dextone) 
Levi Dexter and and the Gretsch Brothers
"All Thru the Night" (Indie Japan)

DC Larson

Worldwide legend Levi Dexter has two riotous discs to his credit in 2014, and in reaction the crazy rockabilly nightime has burst into endless flame. His famous, authoritative vocals, whether offset by guitarist Buzz Campbell on "Roots Man" or parallel pickers ex-Magic Kenichi Yamaguchi and Katsuo Hino (of Sandra Dee) on "All Thru," resound clearly and with whipcracking passion. When Levi's on, everybody's movin' - though none as marvelously as the stutter-stepping dervish, himself. Truly, a King among kats.

Recommended "Boppin' Bernie," "Roots Man," "Cannibal Party," "Rollin'
                          To the Jukebox Rock," "Move Around"  ("Roots Man")   
                          "Seven Nights To Rock," "You're My Baby,"  "Oakie Boogie,"
                          "Everyday" (w/Gretsch Bros.


VIDEO: "Boppin' Bernie"
VIDEO: "Restless"