With the uncanny ability to turn every day and mood into a riotous time, Girl Trouble the new album from US rockabillies Straight 8s, is a virulently infectious and diversely flavoured slice of rock ‘n roll which leaves you ready to party. It is simply irresistible, a release all rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll fans should and need to explore and one which will disappoint no one. Consisting of thirteen songs simultaneously providing no major surprises but catching you off guard at every turn with its enterprise and mischief, it is a release which is at ease and full potency whether seducing or excitedly ‘brawling’ with the senses , basically a long-lasting friend just waiting to be met.
It is hard to be sure exactly when Straight 8s began but with their debut album Casualties Of Cool being released in 2004, the North Carolina trio has certainly been around impressing for over a decade, recruiting a hungry fanbase and acclaim for their sound, shows, and releases along the way. Girl Trouble is the band’s third album, the successor to Never Return To Me of 2007, and has been in the making by the current line-up of founder member upright guitarist/vocalist Robert Striegler, upright bassist/vocalist Daniel Mebane, and drummer/vocalist Mark Murphy, since 2009. The three piece seed their sounds in everything from rockabilly, rock, surf, swing, country and all in between, which upon the Brain Drain Records released Girl Trouble means the listener is taken to a hop of thrillingly spiced and inventively crafted romps.
The immediately rampant and inviting instrumental F-Hole opens up the release, its initial guitar lure almost Bolanesque within a scorching sonic beckoning. Feet and body are soon twisting to its pure rock temptation whilst a hunger for the sound is already starting to stir, though to be honest any rockabilly release does that at the start. Many then lose their grip but no such worry with Girl Trouble as second song Rock Me does what it says on its label. Rhythms and bass slaps tease and recruit the senses with ease whilst the guitar craft of Striegler send sonic tendrils of excitement around the same receptive bodies with the contagious vocal bait help the seizure of the passions.
First One Standing In Line offers a Buddy Holly like seduction to its easy going wholly enticing rockabilly stroll, again guitars and vocals taking centre stage but shoulder to shoulder with the crisp beats of Murphy and coaxing bass calls of Mebane. Like all the songs on the album you immediately know enough about the lyrical and musical narrative to feel free and able to leap into the romp and its chorus within a minute or so, it an old friend just waiting the first introduction. Both the blues kissed guitar gaited Why Can’t You Love Me Like I Am and the sultry Slowly Lose My Mind continue the impressive start to the release, the second of the pair emerging as one of the biggest pinnacles on the album. From its opening breath drums and bass have a darker almost predatory stance placing the song in psychobilly territory whilst the vocals also strap on a sinewy intent to ignite the adventure. With a smouldering countryesque ambience pressing on the tale and the superb trumpet flames of guest Nicholas Mebane bordering mariachi magnetism, the track is a glorious romance for the emotions.
As mentioned variety is never far away on the album which the next up Porter Wagner Suit, the song a grinning mix of surf rock melodic flaming and blues hued swing stomping led by great baritone fuelled vocals, and the throaty sounding rockabilly excellence of Help Me Save My Life both thrillingly show. Split by the brief Interlude, a fifty second instrumental of pacing rhythms and bass steps beneath a glassy melodic waltz, the tracks alone leave everything from ears and feet to imagination and emotions lively recipients.
El Mirage returns the listener to the earlier sultry western climes; rhythms cantering across the shimmering hot climes cast by the instrumental as the guitar of Striegler paints and colours the scenic venture expanding in the imagination. It is an enthralling blaze which makes way for the insatiable energy and eager to romp enticement of You’re Always Gone, the song boisterous bait for which there is no resistance, its infection soaked incitement like a cross between The Stargazers and The Polecats.
The final trio of tracks do not allow any slip in the grip of Girl Trouble, the seducing delights of the country rock seeded Two Stubborn Fools featuring the temptress like vocals of Sarah Shook, and the humid You’ll Never Get Away with its gypsy like beguiling temptation and Latin swing spawned wantonness, both scintillating embraces for the now lustful passions whilst the closing Summer Set provides a surf rock sunset which has imagination and energy drifting away wholly satisfied and contented.
Also featuring guest appearances from Phil Sullivan on lap steel guitar and Colin Murphy on vibraphone, Girl Trouble is a gem of a release, an album which is as nostalgic and as fresh a rockabilly encounter as you could wish and hope for. Straight 8s have it all and more…
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