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Raygun Cowboys – Bloodied But Unbroken
Bloodied But Unbroken - STOMP Records
The pride of Edmonton, Alberta, the spur touting psychobilly country punks in Raygun Cowboys are back with another hog tossing, steak chomping slice of savoury brass-based goodness. Still holding the crown as one of (if not the) only ska-infused, twang-centric psychobilly bands out there, the band’s latest album, Bloodied But Unbroken, finds the band once again furiously slapping that upright bass for their fifth career full length in eleven years. Like any band passing the ten year mark, Raygun Cowboys feels undeniably comfortable in their own skin.
With the band blending so many different genres, anything goes in Bloodied But Unbroken. Album opener and lead single “Limbo,” is a beast unto itself. The track boasts a frantic pace propelled by the steady slapping of newcomer Aaron (Zerk) Naveau’s unyielding upright bass and Raygun Cowboys’ country lovin’ beats. The band roars ahead with massive “woah-oah-oah” choruses and a sinfully indulgent guitar solo that commands the song’s elongated bridge. Larger than life frontman Jon Chistopherson howls like a wolf at the bottom of a keg, his beefy baritone embodying the big city and country life synonymous with dusty Albertan roadways. It’s a killer intro, and one that lets everything that follows feel effortlessly on the mark.
The band’s brass section always deserves a shout out too. Like the Mighty Mighty Bosstones of the psychobilly world, the band has a tight command of their horn and saxophone blasts. Look no further than “Fast Machine” and you’ll be met with a barrage of horns blasting life into their swanky 50’s inspired rockabilly beat. Others like “Jonesin’” compliment their distorted psychobilly chords with a smooth standalone saxophone solo sure to ignite a dancehall party. “YEG” shifts the spotlight to the horns for a bursting bridge that reins in the tempo with a buzzing brass personality. Coupled with an anthemic chorus that will likely see Christopherson pass off the mic to the crowd when played live, the band’s energy is undeniable.
Remaining highlights range from fast paced rock n’ roll stompers like the title track, to the thumping lounge worthy beats of “Ain’t Got Time.” The band even includes a neo-rockabilly style cover of the Dire Straits classic, “Walk of Life,” which really excels thanks once again to their abundant brass. The only somewhat disappointing track lies with “Bring It Home Tonight,” which builds anticipation through a casual acoustic opener that takes two of its three-minute runtime building anticipation before erupting into a fast paced finale. The track feels like it should break out at least within the first minute, but drags its feet with a few too many false starts. The final fleeting moments remain satisfying, but they finish just as they reach momentum.
When all is said and done, Bloodied But Unbroken is a wholly enjoyable, cohesive piece of psychobilly as only Raygun Cowboys can deliver. Fans of Nick 13, Joel Kaiser and The Long Tall Texans will embrace the underlying twang, while fans of Mighty Mighty Bosstones and The Resignators will find comfort in these big brass boot-stompers. Dust off your spurs and dawn that ten gallon hat, ‘cause with Bloodied But Unbroken you best be heading to the dance hall, Raygun Cowboys style.