Graveyard Johnnys – Dead Transmission

  • Steven Farkas posted
  • Reviews

Graveyard Johnnys

Dead Transmission - Bomber Music

If it were possible to wear out a digital recording, this would definitely have happened to my copy of Songs From Better Days, the last full length from Welsh rockabilly trio Graveyard Johnnys, so it’s safe to say that when I heard a new album was in the works I was rather excited. Dead Transmission dropped via Bomber Records on May 11th and although I’d had my review copy for some time before that, I wanted to let it resonate before writing this review because upon on the first few spins I was decidedly underwhelmed. However it soon became apparent that this lack of enthusiasm was of my own doing, as I was so familiar with the tracks on songs from better days that anything that wasn’t Cherylene or The Wasted just didn’t measure up. That is, of course, completely unfair and as I listened to the record a few more times, it was clear that this was a pretty stunning record of its own. The Poison is a great way to open the LP, slowly building with its bluesy riffs before descending into what this band does best – kickass, rock n roll. The dynamic rhythm section of Joe Grogans’ bass and Thomas E Lords’ drumming feels like its punching you in the stomach with each note, daring you to step back, but you feel trapped in cement as Callum Houston’s riffs jab you in the face while Grogans whiskey soaked vocals keep you in place in a sort of stunned silence. Seriously one of the best LP opening tracks I’ve heard in a long time.

Graveyard JohnnysThe rest of the record follows a similar formula, with the expected ups and downs, but the ups far outweighing the downs. Because of You features a killer chorus that will stick with you long after the track ends. Ready to Roll and Compromise are both highlights, with the latter slowing the pace down and adds almost a post-punk element with the clean vocal, seriously, showcasing the range of Joe Grogan’s voice again, and although it still has a rockabilly flavour, it’s not something I’ve heard done this well before. The former is another standout, bringing in elements of classic street punk with Houston’s guitar work a particular highlight. Little Witch sees the band shift away from true rockabilly into distortion heavy blues rock, but even outside of their obvious comfort zone, these guys tear it up, I mean if you gave them some terrible pop ballad I reckon these guys would destroy it in the most awesome way possible.

Rockabilly may be a genre where innovation isn’t required because it’s so damn good as it is, but this is a bit more than that, this is basic rock and roll at its best and Graveyard Johnnys are purveyors of a fine variety of it. It may have taken some time for me to get over my inherent bias with Dead Transmission, but this is an album that commands multiple listens, and if you comply, you will be richly rewarded with one of the contenders for album of the year.