Graveyard Johnnys – Songs From Better Days

  • Cole Faulkner posted
  • Reviews

Graveyard Johnnys

Songs From Better Days - Wolverine Records

The big difference between North American and European psychobilly is the ‘billy.’  While North American acts like Stellar Corpses and The Brains tend to infuse more punk and “psycho” to the formula, European staples like Mad Sin and Nekromantix explore the thumping ‘billy’ that started it all.  There’s a lengthy old feud between the two sides, but I straddle fence, taking both for what they’re worth and enjoying the inherent variety that the divide fosters.  Either way though, those that draw a line in the sand are missing out.  Chepstow, Wales psychobilly act Graveyard Johnnys exemplify why more North Americans should pay attention to the European scene.

First off, the band’s debut full length, Songs From Better Days root themselves in the long tradition of rock n’ roll.  “Cherylene” harkens back to the days of greased back hair, slick shoes and dancehall fever.  The “thump thump” of the upright bass and stop ’n go jump of the guitars make many of these golden era influenced rock n’ roll oldies hip shaking numbers embodying the essence of the era.  The whole neo-rockabilly trend resonates within the hip-shaking rhythms of songs like “Dancehall Of Death,” and while not necessarily the album’s focus, certainly plays out in more than song-based isolation.

Next, they lather on a punked up attitude not unlike that of countrymen The Grits or Out Of Luck.  With waves of distortion and posture raising confidence, songs like “Never Get Me” ooze with style.  Production remains high, often emphasizing vibrant guitar work or chilling gang vocals.

And finally, much of the crazy inherent in songs like “Bong On Captain” plays out in electric-acoustic interplay and gypsy-like tempos in the vein of The Adicts.  “The Wasted” takes advantage of the one-two punch of rich double bass meets country time twang followed by an Acappella roundhouse kick sealing the deal and maximizing listener attention.  The band’s vocals are one stop shopping for the genre.  Lending themselves to songs like “Torture Me” they comes across grizzled and confrontational, while on those rockabilly thumpers he could easily be a motorcycle-riding, leather-jacket toting hotshot idol.

Graveyard Johnnys are a great mix of trans-continental modern psychobilly that should find an audience on both side of the Pacific.  With a little country, rock n’ roll, punk, and of course that raucous psycho rebellion, the group represents some of the best punk-a-billy currently on the Wolverine Records roster.