Joecephus and The George Jonestown Massacre – Death Rattle Shake

It seems like Joey (Joecephus) Killingsworth has been dealing out potent sounds as long as The RingMaster Review has way back had music in the heart though that realisation comes with hindsight after actually being introduced to the vocalist/guitarist/songwriter through his band Joecephus and The George Jonestown Massacre; more specifically through 2010 anthem WWLD (What Would Lemmy Do), a track and chorus which still rings out in the office when faced with a dilemma. Now the band has a new slab of Joecephus led goodness out going by the name of Death Rattle Shake, a release all punk ‘n’ rollers and hard rocking, country licking, metal hugging lovers should take a moonshine soaked dance with.

Joecephus and The George Jonestown Massacre as a band rose up around 2005 though, after an EP under his own name, Killingsworth had already released a first album under the name. Performing their first show that year,  the Memphis outfit have gone on to share stages with the likes of David Allen Coe, HR of Bad Brains, Agent Orange, Jucifer, Green Jello, Unknown Hinson, Black Oak Arkansas, Jim Dickinson, Rev. Horton Heat and many more. A handful of attention and praise drawing albums have also graced and bruised the years with Hell or High Water (2010), and Arockalypse Now (2012) probably the most notable and acclaimed. Death Rattle Shake easily takes its place alongside the band’s biggest successes and as a collection of tracks we would confidently suggest is their most impressive and rousing moment yet.

With bassist Brian Costner and drummer Daryl Stephens alongside Killingsworth and featuring the organ of Gerald Stephens, Death Rattle Shake bursts into life with its title track and a slice of dirtily animated rock ‘n’ roll. With beats rapping firmly on the senses and the bass grumbling with devilish seduction, the track is soon a compelling stomp which the magnetic flirtation of keys and the grimy riffs of Killingsworth lustily align with as his vocals further incites the body romping antics the music commands.

It is an outstanding start, one of those irresistible moments we all crave for and the spark for the following diverse dance of the album starting with the blues rock saunter of Drivin Blind. Again the warm, psych lit keys of Stephens contrasts yet unites with the scuzzier tendrils of guitar rising from similarly raw sonic flames, Killingsworth like an outlaw in its midst. It is a description which and always has suited the band’s music perfectly, its character like a rock ‘n’ roll felon/bandit but  an outsider you want to run with.

The addiction sparking Terminally Hip is next swinging its angular hard rock bred hips with attitude and mischief while Karma’s A Bitch brings a cauldron of old school rock nurtured blues punk as irritable as it is boisterously animated. Both tracks incite swift involvement from body and vocal chords, firing up rock ‘n’ roll instincts as easily as Excaliber also proves itself able. Again blues and punk unite as more stoner come sludge metal hues lick away at song and ears, the track another treat even if far too short for unbridled satisfaction.

Through the psych rock seeded, R&B keyed punk ‘n’ roll of Flypaper and the cowpunk sniping of Gold Digging Whore, the album continues to broaden its flavour and magnetism, the first simply a delicious noise nurtured infestation and its successor a woozy intoxication of sour but richly appetising sonic liquor.

Though the country lined funk ‘n’ roll of Cosmic Retribution did not trigger the same greedy appetite as those before it, the track effortlessly had attention hooked as hips swayed again with that mesmeric organ of Stephens a major flirtation alongside swinging rhythms and the enterprise woven web of guitar.

From its title you will correctly guess the nature and sound of Tombstone Blues, a track which without breaking boundaries was full distraction before the album closes off with the enthralling epic stroll of Helping Hand. Though a track unsurprisingly flourishing from the open individual and united craft of its creators, it is the suggestive meander of Killingsworth’s guitar which wanders with a skilled touch and intimation across the increasingly cosmic landscape of sultry keys and boldly ambling rhythms which primarily stands out and grips the imagination.

It feels a long time since we had a Joecephus and The George Jonestown Massacre offering to chew on but well worth the wait as Death Rattle Shake is easily their best yet.

Death Rattle Shake is out now; available @ https://joecephus.bandcamp.com/album/death-rattle-shake

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Pete RingMaster 20/10/2018

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