Rev It Up With Taz
There’s only one thing I hate more than squooshy peas and having wet socks on my feet: trite lyrics.
Hillbilly Hellcats? They’re soaking in them.
Our Brand stumbles out of the gate with the lethargic “Road Rage” not sounding the least bit enraged, or even miffed. “Rockabilly Rebel,” “Roadkill Cafe,” “Better Be Some Drinkin’,” rape all those hackneyed clichés about hillbillies, rockabillies, hotrods, and hair grease, made even worse by singer Chuck Hughes’ low-key warbling and strangled guitars. Add the horribly insipid lyrics to the lackadaisical bass and drums and Our Brand sounds like Rockabilly Lite, or the Stray Cats on bad Quaaludes.
Some of the guitar work is nice; twangin’ and struttin’ along, most notably on “Train to Nowhere” (ignore the bad ’80s-metal intro and the singing; you’ll be fine) and the Brian Setzer-flavored “Cats Like Us.” “Gypsy Queen” is especially pretty, with its mellow, lullaby-like feel, but it is immediately ruined by “Hillbilly Cat,” once again never going beyond the first entry in the rhyming dictionary: “I’m a hillbilly cat/ What do you think about that?,” coupled with the equally ridiculous and high school “Hey little honey/ won’t you gimme a chance/ I’m the one who wants to get in your pants.” Ugh. I think I’d rather chew tinfoil.
On the other hand (on a completely different body,) Rev It Up With Taz , the band’s debut, sparkles and shines like a crushed Pabst Blue Ribbon can in the dirt. The sock-hoppin’ “White Trash” again pays homage to the perks of trailer park living and big bee-hived girls, but rather coming off as rehashed, its tongue-in-cheek sincerity charms. “My Baby Moved” bemoans an ex-girlfriend’s tragic metamorphosis from hep-kitten to hippy-chick.
Perhaps the best track on Rev It Up is the CD opener, “Hillbillies on Speed,” with its tasty banjo intro and Chuck Hughes’ vocal 180, growling and purring to Taz Bentley’s pouty drums and Lance Romance’s throbbing bass. “I Dig Jazz” is a slice of instrumental bliss, nicely showcasing what the band can really do, although at one minute, forty-two seconds, it is woefully short. “Tom Grey’s Dream” chugs and twangs the story of Tom Grey’s drinking problem and its subsequent “cure.” (You’d quit too, if you sobered up on a Hell-bound train with the Devil as the conductor.)
The lyrics aren’t as trite as Our Brand (there are exceptions, like “Ol Bobcat” and “I’m an old bobcat/ and I don’t get no tail”), and the only real blemish on this CD is the unfunny and forgettable “Slappin’ My Baby Around.” Overall, Rev It Up With Taz out-rocks, out-twangs, and simply out-classes Our Brand . Hillbilly Hellcats, http://www.hillbillyhellcats.com
Rockin’ Cat Records, 10441 Tomahawk Road, Park, CO 80134