Johnny Kowalski and The Sexy Weirdos – Kill The Beast

JK cover

How best to describe the sound of Johnny Kowalski and The Sexy Weirdos which runs virulently threw the veins of new album Kill The Beast. Well if you take a fusion of Tankus The Henge and Gogol Bordello and spice it up with healthy doses of Les Négresses Vertes, The Pogues and Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers, you get a fair flavouring of the fun found within the band’s second full-length. The ten track release is a magnetic energetic party of varied sounds and flavours brewed into the band’s own riveting “carnival punk” proposition, it one rigorously exciting and enjoyable encounter. Essences of gypsy punk, ska, swing, and straight forward punk also add to the irrepressibly captivating mix, the result a wonderful deranged waltz of unpredictable adventure.

Johnny Kowalski and the Sexy Weirdos spent their early years honing and shaping their sound on the live arena before unveiling debut album Victory for the Monsters in the October of 2012. Acclaimed the release was followed by the band striking out on tour across France, Belgium, Germany, and the Czech Republic, again to strong and eager responses. Returning to Europe again last year, the Birmingham based band courted the passion of countries such as Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg in the course of their next tour, whilst appearances at festival such as Boomtown, Y Not, Tramlines, Nozstock, Wychwood, and Swingamajig as well as a third European excursion has only strengthened their presence and reputation, breeding strong anticipation for their new album. Produced by Gavin Monaghan (Editors, The Destroyers, Robert Plant), Kill the Beast seizes attention from its first breath refusing to release its hold until the final note of the last song. It is a release which like all punk bred incitements, which it really is in so many ways, the album challenges and thrills with mischief and antagonistic wantonness, rewarding with a feel good factor other bands can only imagine.

Nailbiter starts things off and is instantly throwing its body through ears, revelling in its boisterous energy as brass inflames the air and rhythms march resourcefully over the senses. Eventually settling into a more controlled yet still rebellious stride with a sultry mystique to its evolving sound, the song seduces and incites the imagination with the violin of John-Joe Murray a potent lure within the strong rhythmic frame provided by drummer Matthew Osborne and bassist Chris Yates. A devious swagger breaks out from within the captivating stomp, the guitar of Kowalski stirring things up before his raw vocals add to the striking dance. There is a fairground barker drama to his delivery, expelling forcibly the narrative as strings and brass colour the scenery further, the trombone croon of Ellie Chambers and trumpeting pouts of Simon Noons rich hues to immerse within. Building up to an explosive crescendo which wickedly never materialises, the track is a glorious start to the album setting a high bar for the other songs to match.

The following When the Time Comes makes a worthy attempt, growing potently from its reserved opening stroll with flumes of brass warming a rhythmic scattering and the more reserved delivery of Kowalski. It is a spicy romp, which like a smouldering temptress sways and swerves with melodic curves and energetic tendencies over the senses, teasing with its seductive nature. It does not match its predecessor’s heights but still leaves emotions and ears enraptured as the Tequila Song stands poised to inflame their ardour once again. As you can probably imagine from the title the song is a festival in the ear; liquor kissed revelry which stomps with rhythmic knees high and infectious melodies bordering on salaciousness. The brass again almost taunts with their evocative blasts, adding to the mischief breeding every note and syllable uncaged by Kowalski and the backing shouts of Osbourne and Murray.

Next up Question the Answers strides with a rhythmic tantalising courted by a great throaty bass lure and punctuated by again fiery stabs of brass. There is a sense of unrest to the sound and feel of the song, a troubled sigh locking onto the rigid contagious press of rhythms. As vocals and subsequently violin bring their unique flavours to the developing evocative landscape, the track absorbs attention and appetite, twists of guitar and acidic stringed invention spearing the enveloping premise. The track is more restrained and arguably straight forward than the earlier tempests of adventure but no less gripping, much like Same Mistakes which swiftly adds its bold canter to the terrain of the release. Again it is a more reined in protagonist but with plenty to engage the ears if without sparking the same strength of fire in the passions as certainly the first and third song.

The excellent folk/gypsy vaunt of Raggle-Taggle Gypsy comes next to bring a traditional treat with a sense of the Pogues to its exhaustive imagination infesting polka before making way for the instrumental ‘shanty’ of What Shall We Do With a Blonde?, another track which lifts spirits and feet like a maniacal puppeteer for the fullest of pleasures. The album sees the additional dark charm of the tuba from David Yates across its body, and here he is at his exhilarating best perfectly matched by the mouthwatering skill of Murray.

     Another major treat comes with the carnival-esque sortie of That’s the One, brass and violin casting a picture of circus swing which the expressive vocals and gypsy punk spawned heart of rhythms and guitar paint in their own rich textures. In its full stride the song is an addictive tempting which as others steals control of feet and soul but it is not maintained throughout to the same potent effect leaving the listener feeling the song missed an indefinable trick somewhere. It is still a vivaciously pleasing track which the punkish The Good Shark builds from. Like The Clash meets Mano Negro in many ways, the song is a feverish provocateur which impresses and excites even more when from its fire flailing romp it hits a vein of dub/ska haunting sparking that Strummer and Co reference and thoughts of Ruts too. Finishing on the same brash and vigorous exploit it started with, the track is a wonderful slab of fun.

The title track brings the album to a strong hypnotic close with plucked violin strings around a resonating beat immediate bait and trap to devour greedily. That enticement is soon accentuated as Murray spreads the charm of his craft pushing deeper the core temptation of the song. The track as it explores its walls has a feel of Dizraeli and The Small Gods, not so much in sound but the way the song is constructed and blossomed, though the guest vocal skat of Call Me Unique itself holds some similarity to the other band’s Cate Ferris. It is a maelstrom of sound and imagination providing a final blast of fun and adventure to a tremendous album.

     Kill the Beast is a scintillating treat which even in its less lofty moments still leaves appetite and emotions raging. Johnny Kowalski and The Sexy Weirdos are the minstrels of ‘Body Snatching Carnival Punk’ and if coming to a graveside near you are well worth gripping tightly on to.

Kill The Beast is available now@


RingMaster 26/05/2014

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Barnyard Stompers: The Way-Gone, Wild and Rockin’ Sounds of …

Barnyard stompers

    We have always had a tendency here, more a mission to be honest, to stay away from barn dances but that resistance could be seriously challenged if such events offered up the same riveting heart igniting sounds which make the Barnyard Stompers album, The Way-Gone, Wild and Rockin’ Sounds of … such a magnificent dance of devilment and fun. The release is a storm of diverse and insatiably mischievous songs which leave no rockabilly, cowpunk, and country blues stone unturned and equally ensure there is no passion or form of musical seduction untouched.

Barnyard Stompers consists of Casey Miller (guitar, vocals, kazoo) and Megan Go-Go Wise (percussion and backing vocals), two musicians who over the years have brought invigorating sounds in such bands as The Hillbilly Hellcats, The Bop Kings, Vibes on Velvet, The Kozmik Kowboyz, and Buckwild. In their new venture of around a year old, the pair fuses a mix of outlaw country, Texas stomp, blues, and rockabilly into their own distinct romp of irresistibility, self-tagged as backwoods twang. Since forming the band has played in excess of one hundred shows and performed before audiences within over fourteen states as well as releasing this riotous treat, so obviously they are a duo that is unrelenting in their work ethic and desire to thrill their fans, something the album does with dirty ease.

The album instantly brawls with the senses and heart through the opening intro Let’s Go Stompers, a short call to arms for Record Coverpassions and feet through a raw and unbridled energy. From its raucous challenge the following Devil On My Shoulder lays a smouldering bluesy arm around the shoulders and serenades the ear with guitar mystique before steeping into an invigorating rockabilly stomp of firm beats, eager guitar, and inviting vocals veined with sonic flames which shimmer in the heat of the song. Across its stroll the song darkens its shadows with vocal effects and a sinister glaze to its compelling charge. It is a mighty full start to the album as it holds court over the passions steps forward as one of the major highlights, of which there are many, upon the release,.

Bad Tattoo offers up a character drenched narrative wrapped in a Waylon Jennings/The Reverend Horton Heat like glaze to further the set in satisfaction but is soon overwhelmed by the delicious blues croon of Love Long Gone, a song which plays like the love child of Elvis track That’s All Right and Say Mama from Gene Vincent. It has a familiarity about it which only endears and is brought with a craft and passion which leaves the listener mutually involved. Across the album many artists and flavours are provoked thought wise as with next up If You Want Me, a Buddy Holly/Carl Perkins spiced gem, though none settle into a recognisable stance due to the invention and devilry of the band and the songwriting.

Consisting of seventeen prime slices of varied temptation the album is a bumper crop of pleasure from start to finish which arguably in a release of this size is unexpected but wholly welcomed. Other notable moments of extended satisfaction comes in the more eclectic songs such as the version of traditional Irish song, Whiskey In The Jar, made most notable from the Thin Lizzy take on it. As with a later song on the album, Danny Boy Stomp, the Denver pair delivers the tracks with a caustic allure which is best described as Dropkick Murphys meets The Pogues, and a gravelly treat it is.

Songs such as the high octane dusty road cruiser Got Me A Trailer and the excellent garage rockabilly horror Nazi Zombies spark further riots of lustful passion for their unpolished instinctive rock n roll, whilst ’59 Black Cadillac is simply the highway to tarmac ardour with its smoking riffs and rumble strip rhythms. Other personal favourite moments where the album finds additional areas of pleasure to molest come with what can only be called mariachi ska in the song Rudeboy On The Highway, where the kazoo of Miller is impish upon the quite sizzling vaunt, and the Mexican punk fiesta El Carretero, not forgetting also the equally punk coated Question.

Every second and note of The Way-Gone, Wild and Rockin’ Sounds of … is the instigator to a hunger for much more from release and band, something which will be answered when the band release their follow-up album later this year. It is a stomp with no demands but to have fun, something which is as mentioned before is criminally easy.


RingMaster 01/03/2013

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The Pulsebeats – The Pulsebeats

The self titled debut album from Spanish based power pop combo The Pulsebeats only has one intention, to rattles cages and tease ears with enthused and excitable bursts of pulse racing raw energy. To the term power pop, which the band use on their bio, is slightly misleading as their eager sound is more a clash of garage rock and punk with healthy veins of pop and rock. The album is unpredictable and a release with definite peaks though the consistency across its length is strong.

From Santander, The Pulsebeats began at the beginning of 2010 with the quartet of Nathan (ex- The Vipers – UK), Alex (currently in Zientotreintayuno and Riff Cadaver), Ral (ex- White Radars, The Vipers, Mairollosnauta, Corte de los Milagros…) and Luis coming together to in their own words “…write great pop tunes that you can dance and sing along to.” The album proves they succeeded though with a great rough edge to their music to be more than just pop.

The Heart Of The Rhinestone Cowboy’ opens up proceedings, jangly guitars with a southern lilt playing on the ear. The song is a stirring mix of punk and country rock giving a mix of The Pogues, Reverend Horton Heat and Dropkick Murphys. Blistered melodies and harmonies flow alongside the choppy guitars and coarse vocals to make a strong start to the release. The pop punk of ‘Song For Celia’ plays easily upon the ear next but it is with ‘Cynical Ride’ that things accelerate. From the first thirsty riff the song grabs firm attention, with a dirty insatiable sound, teasing keys and a thumping rhythm it hits the spot perfectly. The track also confirms what previous tracks suggested, there are some mean basslines at play even if production veils them beneath the guitar at times.

The dual male and female vocal led ‘Midnight Drive’, the energetic ‘You Powerpop Boys’ with boisterous guitars and mischievous bass, plus another southern twang lined track in ‘1,000 Stars’ keep the album flowing with agreeable and pleasing sounds, the last of the three bringing urges to strap on the stirrups and go ride something. Though the tracks do not leap out as others they all bring a sing-a-long attitude, fun, and memorable moments to get feet tapping and interest deep.

The Pulsebeat keeps the best until last though, the album closing with three thrilling and impressive tracks. Firstly ‘Shallow Call’ swaggers in with shouts, a grumbling bassline and stirring punk guitars chopping across the senses. Sounding Rocket from the Crypt like, the track turns up the intensity and energy. It never gets out of control or goes full pelt but has all the elements and intentions good punk music should. ‘Wanna Make U Mine’ leaps right in next, giving a senses energising cacophony of sound from an inbred union between The Briefs and The Strokes with Living End, this is punkabilly at its best.

Killed By Sinatra’ closes out the release with equal quality and pleasure. Fuelled by rampaging pop punk focusing on direct ear blistering fun the song is again RFTC like with splatters of The Stooges and Foxboro Hot Tubs. It throbs and jumps with playfulness, and as always jangly guitars and irresistible hooks run wild. Placing strong tracks at the end of an album always seems an obvious idea though many bands do not. To leave on a track that rings and lingers around the head and thoughts has to be the best way to induce people back soon, apart from making a great album of course.  The Pulsebeats do it in triplicate, leaving the listeners with a trio of thumping hyperactive irresistible tunes. With the rest of the album being pretty darn good too they have come up with an impressive album.

The Pulsebeats is not without flaws especially in the bass and keys which when heard are excellent but too often they are blanketed by the crashing guitars and eager vocals. The album is a treat to delve into again and again with ease so go treat yourself by checking it out, a fun time is guaranteed and it just might become a regular on your personal playlist.

RingMaster 27/01/2012 Registered & Protected


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Smokey Bastard – Tales From The Wasteland

With more fun, energy and deliriously addictive punked up melodies than should be legally allowed comes the new album from UK punk folksters Smokey Bastard. The seven piece from Reading unleash Tales From The Wasteland via Bomber Music on October 31st bringing 13 tracks of essential raucousness from their tavern of intoxicating mix of traditional folk, real punk, and deeply infectious enthusiasm.

Since forming in early 2007 the band has whipped up a strong reputation and following for no holds live shows and a sound that brings the bands influences into a frenzied and irresistible sound of their own creating music that teases and plays upon the instinctive rebel within us all. Tales From The Wasteland the follow up to their debut album Propping Up The Floor last year, is further evidence and impressive proof that the combination of Macca (Vocals, Guitars, Mandolin), Mike Wood (Vocals, Bass), Matt (Guitars, Banjo), Nick (Accordion, Mandolin), Andy (Tin Whistle, Guitars, Banjo), Aled (Banjo, Mandolin) and Buttons (Drums), make music that excites the ear and deeper.

Smokey Bastard takes flavourings from the likes of Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly, though their sound is more removed from the celtic punk sound towards the earlier beginnings of folk punk. They come from a rogue punk base as brought forth in the 80’s by the likes of The Pogues, the use of mandolins, banjos and tin whistles alongside the electrified aggressive energy a mesmeric blend. The brilliant ‘Wasteland’ opens up the album and instantly tells you all you need to know about the band to want more and more of their boisterous and rousing sound. Starting with a slow and firm crawl as the gruff vocals of Macca declares this wasteland my “sweet fucking home” the track erupts into a rowdy and beckoning invite to join its anthemic charms.

Showing their skills and varied influences the melodic folk instrumental ‘Token Folkin’’ skips into view next before unleashing more infectious folk punk frenzy with ‘Eden Holme  as rasping vocals and group shouts add to the engaging melodic play. The interplay between the mandolins and bass towards the end has the foot tapping even harder than before and as with every song on the album brings the feeling of defiant celebration, ‘Mongrel’ coming up next the perfect proof with its proud, irrepressible and urgent dynamism. There is a slight ska lining to the song that brings more effortless and eager response from the senses.

Four tracks in and the album already had stated its claim for essential listening classification and album of the year nomination. Songs like ‘My Son John’ a wonderful and humorous folk acapella piece that reminded of 80’s band The Dancing Did, the exhilarating ride of instrumental ‘Mong Some Hoof’, and the mesmeric storytelling of ‘Cheer Up, Love (Worse Things Happen At Sea)’ a breathtaking tale that galvanises the senses, all continue and increase the carefree but wonderfully inspiring atmosphere. One gets the feeling the band would like to be seen as being a bunch that just turn up and play or throw things together for a laugh but their musicianship and stirring songwriting reveals all.

The single from the album ‘Yuppie Dracula’ is another excitable and appealing track though not the best on the album but with the immensely grin inducing ‘Dear Mol’ a bittersweet leaving note to an ex- lover which twists things up when she comes back with her own snarl mid song via a great female vocal, and the reflective report on past failures in the splendid punk edged ‘‘Aspirations, I Have Some‘, keeps the album at its great and impressive level.

Tales From The Wasteland is a fully satisfying release of great incessant joy, its lively and rip-roaring sounds guaranteed to brighten up any day and most of all the album again shows Smokey Bastard as one of the best and strongest rock bands in the UK.

RingMaster 11/10/2011 Registered & Protected


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