A few months back now Jimmy managed to fix it for this lucky Rockabilly fan to get a sneak peak behind the scenes at the infamous ‘Western Star recording studios’ where Henry and the Bleeders were set to record a new EP and their eagerly awaited 3rd studio album. To say I was excited would have been a humongoloid understatement, I couldn’t wait to get my ears a’ bleedin’.
It’s been at least 8 years since the band’s last studio album ‘Out of luck, out of cash, out on bail’ during the recording process of which the band experienced a large amount of… drama shall we say?! To the point it would give the album its name. For the full story check out this making of documentary.
Fast forward a few years and a four track vinyl release and the boys are back in the studio with a well seasoned attitude which has in no way tamed the wild beast that is HATB. I had the honor of being first to hear the new record in it’s then fetal state and I remember thinking to myself “man these boys haven’t lost their touch” also “fuck I’d better go home and practice”. I’d still have to wait a few more months until I could hear the finished product with all its bells and whistles, not literally of course, but there were some brass sections that were yet to be recorded.
HATB often gets compared to the likes of Psychobilly pioneers The Meteors, King Kurt and the Guana Batz and although it’s easy to hear the similarities, the sound of this record in particular goes a little deeper with influence ranging from country, swing to RnB and punk, gypsy jazz and even 70s soul. When talking to the band they explained to me that “this album is their London Calling” referring to The Clashes Iconic album which pretty much transcended the punk genre with its eclectic influences. It’s a bold claim but the boys have the brass to back it up. Let’s get stuck into it shall we?
Track 1 is ‘H.A.T.B.’ and it begins the album as loud and lairy as it means to go on, an opener that reminds us exactly who we are dealing with and lists the bands earlier exploits.
We then roll into…
Track 2. ‘87’ bound’ a white knuckle roller coaster ride back in time, showcasing the bands Punk rock origins complete with hard hitting punk ‘n’ roll drums and vocals that would make the late great Lemmy Kilmister blush.
‘I’ve gotta rock on (for you)’ an old skool crush story, a proper sing along with a great video to boot. I really dig the ooowwws. Check out the music video:
‘Day Trippin’’. What do you do with a pocket full of money when your in Amsterdam? Well this song suggests you accept your fate and indulge your desires diving head first in to some good ol’ debaucherous fun.
‘Too Many Heartaches’, a reflection on living a rock‘n’roll lifestyle, the dirt, glitz and filthy pleasures in all their glory. The song deals with facing the music and making up for misdeeds. The track has a backwards voice sample which echoes the main refrain that has a descending tale that rewinds and resets the riff, it’s a nice touch.
‘Vicious Circle’ features some savage sax lines and deep vocals that express the frustrations of fighting a battle against a toxic routine.
‘This Town’ a classic love hate relationship about the town the boys grew up in, a hard hitting head banger.
‘Padrone’ some surprising flamenco vibes on this instrumental and the track comes complete with a full on horn section that conjures up images of a desperado on the run from a ruthless mob boss.
‘No Regrets’, some cool tempo changes in this bear bones psychobilly tune with a simple message, “life is what you make it”.
‘Weed Farmer’ if these guys were a prog band they’d have named this song ‘Hillbilly in a Psycho band part II’. It feels to me like they are bringing back the character established from this albums predecessor, what do you think? Once you’ve given em both a listen drop us a comment.
‘Skate’ is possibly my favorite track of the album. A lone ranger skating off into the sunset and a sweet instrumental riff-fest thrown in for good measure. Nice!
‘Letter to Moseley’ this one slows it down with a chilled out vibe and the rare use of Piano and I believe some electric bass. The vocals narrate a letter that is catching up a mate on the inside.
‘Gypsy King’ a badass biographical tribute to the Lineal heavyweight champion, Tyson Fury.
‘Man with the World at his Feet’ different to the rest of the album this track has a much darker tone. Another strong contender for favourite track of the album the song has a slow stomping tempo that is wrapped up nicely with an almost ghostly delay effect on the lead guitar. It’s the perfect ender for a killer album.
Long time fans of this band will notice the odd little easter egg within this album, nodding their head to the old days, as you’d expect given the albums title.The album is a good mix of catchy sing along anthems and slow burning gems.
I got to witness some of these tracks performed live at Bedlam Breakout in March 2018 and they really raised the bar. Sounding tight enough to be a chord… wait I can say that better they sounded like a full fat mechanical rockabilly wrecking machine, cogs churning, clicks and clacks clunking, steel strings a pick a pluckin’,drum beats bouncing around inside your skull, jazz coffin slappin’ you round the face. At the helm a maniacal howlin’ lunatic, wailing that vintage telecaster sound, busting out perverse bluesy double stops and villainous low end country licks. This sound is hell bent on kicking off a party all over again.
If you are thinking about picking up a copy of this album you can order it at Western Stars online record store.
Now go and look these lot up. They are the bollocks!