There is a persistent mystery when it comes to US band Joecephus and the George Jonestown Massacre of why when country music is as unwelcome and noxious to the RR as salt to snails this band lights our fires each and every time. To be fair the Memphis trio cannot merely be called a country rock band, their thick and eager roots borne of not only that genre but from punk, rock, and metal. There is no one like Joecephus and the George Jonestown Massacre and with new album Arockalypse Now they have returned stronger, hungrier, and with more mischief than ever, their cowpunk hillbilly rock sounds as insatiable as ever.
Consistently tagged as “a cross between Motorhead and Merle Haggard” it only gives a glimpse of the diversity of band, as the new album shows they are at ease and skilled at mixing in styles and diverse flavours to tease, taunt and ignite the deepest pleasures. Led by vocalist/guitarist Joe Killingsworth, the band has already left the deepest marks and scars with previous releases and the sharing of stages with the likes of Shooter Jennings, David Allan Coe, Jesco White The Dancing Outlaw, Jim Dickinson, Green Jello, H. R. of the legendary Bad Brains, and The Reverend Horton Heat to name a few. They have also had songs on many movie soundtracks like The Importance of Being Russell and Grim Sweeper plus numerous CD compilations.
Following 2010 album Hell or High Water, the new release sees the band riling up the ear with a heavier rock intent and invention without losing the essences and essential influences which makes them so unique. It successfully offers up sixteen diverse and distinctive tracks all fuelled by the need to make the time spent in their company a provocative riot of dirty irresistible fun. Maybe in the past their albums have had a slight inconsistency to them though the previous release made moves to change that, but with Arockalypse Now that is never in doubt, its course a persistent high.
The ear is thrilled from the start with the punk fury which is Get Away. Eager and raw it is an attitude drenched bomb of energy littered with inciteful riffs and a snarling bass from Brian Costner. Anthemic and uncomplicated, it recalls seventies punk drawn through a combative garage rock distillery.
The psychobilly tinged Love Song 666 rips up the air next with blistering beats from Daryl Stevens sending knees buckling alongside a greedy infection in the shape of riffs. Across its voracious length the song takes the senses on a reckless ride of pleasure through a great unexpected diversion before throwing one back into the maelstrom of contagion veined with scorched guitars and feisty vocals. As is the norm for them the song and album is a brought with the tongue of the band deep in their cheek and at times in yours too.
The irresistible feasts of limb jerking joy come at the ear at breakneck speed as song after song unleashes its own varied brew of rock n roll. Through the likes of the punk rock juiced Just Another Day, the incisively melodic Tomorrow, and the stunning RX Saviour with its warped rockabilly/country rock air complete with excellent female vocals, the album simply grows into an even greater beast of joyous wickedness. Every track offers something openly different and perpetually incendiary to ignite the heart and the urge to let loose.
As Arockalypse Now progresses it quite simply gets better and better with multiple loftier highlights. The ignition for these comes with the spectacular Six String Samurai, a song to take top dog honour. Whether associated to the track or not it plays like the bastard cousin of band classic WWLD? (What Would Lemmy Do), bursting out at points from similar riffs to forge its own mighty status. With a wonderful brooding jazz bass presence and near demonic offshoots within the electrified and blistered air the song is just immense. The brilliance found in that song is immediately continued in the rabid instrumental Pawtrick. A growling rampage of spiteful sonic conjuring and relentlessly jabbing beats the piece is an imaginative and unpredictable storm of what seems like improve based on a mutated jazz theme.
The dirtily sexy Pimpworth, another salacious slice of wantonness plus the excellent cover of the George Jones classic The Race Is On add to the toe tapping and senses firing party to further the adoration growing towards the album. Joecephus and the George Jonestown Massacre to be fair is a band which clicks with you or not but when they do it is for life and with the brilliant Arockalypse Now one can only expect many more willing victims succumbing to their amped-up unbridled and inventive rock n roll frenzy.
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