You will excuse any misplaced words and deviation of thought as you read this review as it is all down to the fact that these hips are still swerving as feet are stomping with a dervish passion whilst emotions flying high from listening to the delicious romp of White Teeth, Black Thoughts. You can blame its creators Cherry Poppin’ Daddies for this over enthusiastic and lingering unprofessional relish as they spread the irresistible swing and jazz passion of their new and sixth full-length release via People Like You Records. Bringing eleven richly flavoured and distinctly shaped temptresses to flirt, seduce, and enslave the imagination, the album sees the US band diving back into their swing and jazz inspired natures, leaving the more eclectic worldly sounds of previous offerings to the side, for one terrific and unforgettable party.
From the release of their 1990 debut album Ferociously Stoned a year after forming, Cherry Poppin’ Daddies has ignited bodies and passions with their constantly tempting sounds; the band fusing weaves of potent spices and styles along the way. They brewed or certainly accelerated a loyal and swiftly growing fanbase around the world with their compilation Zoot Suit Riot: The Swingin’ Hits of the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies in 1997, it the catalyst to a new concentrated attention and hunger for their sound. Since its invitation albums like Soul Caddy and Susquehanna in 2000 and 2008 respectively, with their wider striking mixes of flavours such as ska, rock, and at times pop, have only increased the band’s acclaim and presence whilst shows and tours with bands such as Reel Big Fish, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Rancid and Bad Religion have unreservedly enhanced their reputation and stature.
The early more concentrated swing and jazz fuelled time of their first releases though for many is the core and instinctive sound of the Oregon band and returning to it White Teeth, Black Thoughts proves the octet has lost none of their flare and fervour not to mention skill for the styles. The album is not a throwback to those times though but a fresh and contemporary slice of revelry immersed in the world of today and its issues. Vocalist/guitarist Steve Perry, who founded the band alongside bassist Dan Schmid, described the album and the intent of the band with it as “We’re a modern band talking about modern problems,” going on to say “This is not a nostalgic record. If anything, it’s a record about nostalgia. I’m not interested in old things; I’m interested in how old things function now.”
As soon as the brass flames soar over the ears escorted by crisp beats and a riveting dark bass tone, opener The Babooch has attention in the palm of its hands; trumpet, sax, and trombone similarly igniting the imagination with their fiery temptation. Settling into a steady stroll, keys and rhythms entangle an already awoken appetite further whilst the smooth tones of Perry croon with an eager smile as group vocal additives and cheeky twists within the song skirt and accentuate the lure of the track. Well into its stride the track subsequently lifts its urgently driven feet to run with the melodic devilry grinning within all members and their instrumentations; the encounter a glorious and irresistible start to the album swiftly backed and increased by I Love American Music. Like its predecessor, the song needs no time to warm up its intent and desire to have the listener instantly engaged and dancing with its swinging gait and boldly stomping hips. So with more contagion to its narrative and melodic toxicity than at a sultry burlesque show and just as much aural sex, the song magnetically storms and seductively smoulders across its piece of defiant devilry, alternating the bait whilst providing an unrelenting temptation of insatiable imagination.
The following Whiskey Jack ensures that there is not lifting of the persuasion and energy, its blustery brass caresses potent incitements to thoughts and feet. Their masterful seizing of the senses is persistently coaxed and driven by the as now expected excellent vocals of Perry and the colourful dance of keys, though once again it is a song which skilfully throws strands of unexpected textures and unpredictable sounds with equally intriguing ideation into the mix. Hunger for the album at this point is intense; greed just as wholesomely fed by Doug the Jitterbug, a glorious cover of the Louis Jordan track, and the sultrily fired title track. The first of the two is a jazz bred quickstep of mischievous urgency and vivacious enterprise whilst the second whilst also being seeded in a rich soak of jazz tempting, finds just as riveting strains of blues and R&B within its simmering and evocative melodic blaze.
The dark boisterous and pulsating entrance of next up Brown Flight Jacket immediately has lips licked, the resonance of hollow yet vocal drums, similarly intensive bass, and the ever descriptive keys merging for a mouthwatering welcome. In many ways the emergence of the undeniably mesmeric and enthralling keys and vocal harmonies thereafter is an anti-climax such the impressive build-up, but the song soon has mind and heart locked and loaded within its mellow enticement. The song whips up yet another lustful response towards the album, taking longer than most may be to get there but over time seducing with the guile and poise of a siren.
The variety within the release continues with another masterful cover, this time of the Hank Penny track Bloodshot Eyes, which riles up another surge of eagerness in the appetite, and then the inventive and unexpected proposition of Jakes Frilly Panties. The song sees the band dig right back in time with its blues piano swagger but it is the static in the production recalling forties and fifties recordings which steals the imagination most. The success of the pair is matched by the darker toned almost salacious Huffin Muggles, a weave of heavily throated and resourceful temptation walked through by equally mysterious and darkly alluring vocals. Its outstanding sound and invention reminds of the sounds bands like Molotov Jukebox and The BeauBowBelles have been spreading around the passions.
As good as the trio of songs are they have to play second fiddle in a way to the final cover on the album. Recorded back in the day by Bull Moose Jackson, Cherry Poppin’ Daddies give Bowlegged Woman an accomplished devilry musically and vocally which cannot fail to raise constant chuckles and pleasure. Its boisterous revelry is followed by the closing masterful call of Concrete Man Blues, arguably the biggest swing number on the album with its orchestrated fire. The song completes a captivating and dramatically thrilling release, White Teeth, Black Thoughts an addiction casting treat which shows that Cherry Poppin’ Daddies are still the masters of swing induced jazz sculpted revelry. If the likes of King Salami and the Cumberland 3, The Stargazers, and Brian Setzer tinkle your fancy then Cherry Poppin’ Daddies and their new album is a must.
White Teeth, Black Thoughts is available now via People Like You Records.
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