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Sunday, 17 April 2011

Spellbound - Stir it up

Twenty five years have past since Spellbound got together as lads in Ireland looking to stir it up. Twenty five long hard years of playing pubs, clubs and festivals that has stood them in good stead as they are now at a point where they can make real the musical ideas that they have in their heads.
I don't mean that they couldn't previously, but instead this hard won experience has allowed them to avoid the pitfalls that so many of their peers fall into, and along with their label “Drunkabilly Records” they have managed to record a finely tuned slab of 'billy music.
It would be unfair to simply call them a psychobilly, rockabilly or even neo rockabilly band as they encompass all the sub genres and in doing so provide a melting pot sound of all that is good about the quiff laden, bass slappin' scenes that they are defining here.
Album opener “Ballad of Bobby Kane” provides a good example of this. A cinematic sounding country styled acoustic track that sounds like it could have came straight out of a revamped Sun studio.
It would have been easy for them to then continue in this vein throughout the rest of the album, but instead they flesh out the 'billy skeleton of “Soulcatcher” with some ska toned muscle that strikes a balance that should manage to attract a crossover audiences from fans of both styles, and then they slip into fan favourite “Old School Boogie”. A track that could put a smile on the face of anyone who has been mired in supporting all that hangs onto a rock and roll vibe.
I suppose it would be fair to say that the first three tracks provide an excellent example of what the band are all about.
They aren't going to be pushed into a neat little scenester box, and instead of fitting in with what the perceived sound should be by those lurking in an unimaginative cul-de-sac they are instead opening up themselves to explore anything that takes their fancy.
Have a listen to their version of The Doors classic “People Are Strange for a reference point of their magpie tendencies.
While adding an out of left field cover now seems to be de rigeur for 'billy bands on virtually every album released it's refreshing to hear a band that get it, and therefore make the song a worthwhile addition rather than one that sounds like the black sheep of the family when lined up with the other songs.
What we have here is an a well rounded album that older fans will key into and newer ones will use as a jumping off point to explore their past from.
Not bad for some old timers from the emerald isle. I think I'll have to buy it myself as the promo version doesn't feature the bonus DVD.

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