Tag Archives: rockabilly


‘Billy Monday: Knocksville

Recently, we’ve had some good luck with new followers on Twitter. It almost seems that bands are doing a little homework and following us because they have seen what we do and they fit the profile.

Knocksville is a band that certainly fits the profile of bands we like, and it only took about three seconds for me to figure it out. I went to ReverbNation, and the first song I heard from this band was “Wait and See.” This song begins with a guitar riff that would make John Lee Hooker and Billy Gibbons proud. The rhythm section provides a boogie groove that would definitely get people moving on a dance floor.

Since this is ‘Billy Monday, this obviously is not just a blues-rock band. This band some pretty serious rockabilly and psychobilly influence too. Think Reverend Horton Heat…only trashier. The rockabilly sound is especially apparent in “Work It Out” and “Baby Stop.” When you hear “Baby Stop,” it’s pretty easy to imagine a scene of guys with pompadours swing dancing with beautiful rockabetties in dresses. The psychobilly sound really comes through in “Forever Young,” a song that reminds me quite a bit of Tiger Army.

If you’re a regular reader of our ‘Billy Monday posts, Knocksville is a band you should check out. It will sound great as you drive around in your primer-gray El Camino.

And bands out, use Knocksville as an example. Follow us on Twitter (@incognitomag). We may just like your stuff as much as we like Knocksville, which means that you could be featured here sometime in the near future.

The Greasemarks: Gritty 50s-style rockabilly from Toronto

‘Billy Monday: The Greasemarks

The Greasemarks might be as fitting a name for a band as I’ve ever encountered. What better name for a rockabilly band – a genre known for songs about hod rods and drag racing? The tagline for this band on Twitter says, “Nasty. Authentic. 50s style rockabilly.” Not one of those claims is false. This band plays 50s-style rockabilly filtered through some gritty garage rock.

The rockabilly sound is prominent throughout the melodies (particularly the guitar and bass). These guys from Toronto play the kind of melodies that get couples swinging on the dance floor. “Plowin’” is a great example. This song sounds like it could have been recorded in the 50s. In fact, it sounds a lot like “Mystery Train.” The garage rock sound is mostly in the vocals, especially in the song “Bring Her Back (Don’t)”.

If you like the classic rockabilly sound with just a little grit added, The Greasemarks is a band you should get to know. It will sound great coming from the speakers of your hot rod, or at your local juke joint.

‘Billy Monday: Alastair Christl

Alastair Chirstl: Classic rockabilly at its finest

Alastair Chirstl: Classic rockabilly at its finest

If you haven’t noticed, we here at Incognito HQ pay attention to our readers. For instance, last week I solicited suggestions for ‘Billy Monday. Alastair Christl was one of the recommendations sent our way. Lo and behold, here he is as our featured artist.

My first impression of this rockabilly guy from Toronto was “Candy Shop.” There is no other way to describe this song than classic rockabilly. From the vocals and guitar to the pedal steel, this is rockabilly the way it used to be. At times the western swing melody reminds me of Junior Brown. And like Junior Brown, this song will get you two-stepping.

There must be something about Spanish-speaking places for rockabilly guys. (Maybe they’re beguiled by the dark eyes and hair.) Christl has a ballad called “Spanish Melody” that reminds me a lot of Chris Isaak.

When you go to Christl’s website (and you should), “Spanish Melody” is followed by “Catfight.” It would be hard to put two more disparate songs back to back. “Catfight” is a rumbling rockabilly tune. How to explain it? Well, when you go to a rockabilly show and you see that one guy out on the dance floor who’s not afraid to sort of toss his dance partner around…this is the kind of song where he gets to show off.

Alastair Christl has a voice that was made for rockabilly. It tends toward the higher registers, but that fits right in with the vintage feel of his music. Plus, he never sounds like he’s straining. He has as smooth a voice as you’ll find. If you like classic rockabilly, check this guy out. He’ll make you want to comb your pompadour up high and get on the dance floor with some cute rockabetty.

‘Billy Monday: Vince Ray and The Boneshakers

The Boneshakers: Setzer meets Frantic Flintstones

The Boneshakers: Setzer meets Frantic Flintstones

One of the terms frequently used to describe rockabilly bands is “high octane.” Well, it doesn’t take long to figure out that is a good descriptor for Vince Ray and The Boneshakers from London. The first song I heard from this band is “Snake Drive.” It’s about trucking and it has a tempo that dares you to keep up. See what I mean about high octane being a fitting term?

Someone described this band as Eddie Cochrane meets Motorhead. While that’s not a bad comparison, I’d say a better one is this sounds like what might happen if Brian Setzer played guitar for Frantic Flintstones. The Brian Setzer comparison is most apparent in “Strychnine Strut.” This is a cover of “Strychnine” by The Sonics put to a melody that reminds me of “Stray Cat Strut.” And yes, it is just as interesting as it sounds.

And if you think the tempo of that one is fast, just wait until you hear “Lady Luck.” I can only imagine that the hands of Ben the bassist are nothing but a blur when he plays this song. You can’t even play air bass as quickly as he thumps the doghouse on this song. Another thing I can say about this song (even though I haven’t seen it performed live), is that it would be a great close to a live set because it would leave the audience wanting more.

If I had to name a favorite of the band’s songs available on ReverbNation, I’d say it’s the cover of the classic “Cigarettes & Whisky (a song also covered by Black Jake and The Carnies, a band we featured in April).” Now, this is a great song simply because of the theme of a life ruined by smoking, drinking, and wild women (the ruin of many a poor boy). It’s an even better song when it features some great guitar and upright bass at a tempo that seems like it should be illegal.

If you’re a fan of rockabilly, particularly rockabilly that sounds like it’s been doused in whiskey and dragged through a gutter, you will love this band. Check out all of its tunes available on ReverbNation. Oh, and it bears mentioning that a cover of “Folsom Prison Blues” is not among those songs.

Twitter: @the_boneshakers

Facebook: vincerayandtheboneshakers


‘Billy Monday: Voodoo Swing

Voodoo Swing: songs about martians, trucks, and cool places for music

Voodoo Swing: songs about martians, trucks, and cool places for music

OK, so I’m a little late to the party on Voodoo Swing. But hey, better late than never, right? Anyway, I think so. Before I get to writing about the music, I have to mention that this band scores some good points with me because its previous albums were We’re Usin’ Code Names and Well, Okay Then. Why do those two album titles score points with me? Because they’re both a tip of the cap to one of my favorite movies: Raising Arizona.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that Voodoo Swing has a legitimate rockabilly sound. Not only that, but the first song listed on ReverbNation (“My Rockabilly Martian Gal“) is another example of the rockabilly fascination with space aliens. In some way, the sound of this song brings Reverend Horton Heat to mind without really sounding like The Rev. Even as I write that, I realize it doesn’t make a great deal of sense, but just listen and see what you think.

“Down at The Oak” is a song about a good place to hang out. According to the narrator, one of the things that makes it a good place to hang out is the music. (See, I’m not the only one that thinks good music – live or on the jukebox – is essential.)

Voodoo Swing pays tribute to some of the great California rockabilly and Americana bands in “West Coast Boogie.” Boogie is the right term for it…as in John Lee Hooker. This song reminds me a bit of “House Rent Boogie” sounds like what would happen if John Lee Hooker had collaborated with a rockabilly band.

If “West Coast Boogie” doesn’t get your blood pumping (I find that hard to imagine), I have to hope that “Keep on Rollin’” will. I mean, it’s a loud rockabilly song about driving a truck. What more could you possibly want?

Songs about martians and trucking, some growling guitar, and excellent rhythms (of course including a doghouse bass): this band has everything that is great about rockabilly. Even if you’re late to the party like me, this band is a must for any rockabilly fan.

‘Billy Monday: Rhythm Dragons

Pick up Rhythm Dragons albums on CD Baby

Pick up Rhythm Dragons albums on CD Baby

They say that if you do something like music or writing, you have to catch the attention of your audience immediately. Rhythm Dragons do that for sure. The first song I heard from Rhythm Dragons is “Flat Top Billy,” which begins with a deep voice shouting “Hey greaser!” The song is pretty much what you’d expect from something that begins that way. It is a swinging song that talks about a guy who looks like he’s from 1959 and his car. And it ends with “Let’s have a PBR!”

On ReverbNation, that song is followed by “I Can’t Swing or Dance.” This is a song with the classic theme of being mismatched with your girl. She likes to wine and dine, he likes drinking. She likes dancing, he doesn’t. The irony in this song is that it has a pretty swingin’ melody. Well, after all, the narrator doesn’t say he can’t play swing: merely that he can’t swing dance.

Now, one thing that makes a good band is if it can take a classic theme and make it seem fresh. In “Booze and the Hugs,” the narrator sings about a relationship that has gone south. In this case, the narrator says he’s not going to open the door for his girl who’s been coming home late from boozing. It’s pretty cool to hear a guy sing a song like this because usually the guy is the one who’s misbehavior is described.

This is pretty straightforward. If you like Reverend Horton Heat, Chances are pretty good you’ll like this band too. Even if you don’t like Reverend Horton Heat, you’ll like this band if you like songs about cars, drinkin’, and chicks that are trouble.

‘Billy Monday: Tennessee Voodoo Coupe

Get those boots ready to do some two-steppin'

Get those boots ready to do some two-steppin’

I’ve been featuring a lot of bands recently that straddle the line between modern rockabilly and psychobilly. And of course I dig the sound of those bands. But I also enjoy a band that has that classic rockabilly sound. Tennessee Voodoo Coupe definitely has the classic hillbilly-rockabilly sound with a touch of swing. It’s very clean, and pretty simple stuff that sounds like it was recorded decades ago.

The combination of swing and hillbilly sounds from this band immediately brings Pee Wee King to mind (minus the accordion of course). It’s easy to imagine this being a hit with both the cowboy hat and pompadour crowds. The guitar in “Teenage Boogie” reminds me a lot of Junior Brown. That can’t be a bad thing. I realistically can’t compare many people to Junior Brown.

This is music for your local honky tonk. The sounds of Tennessee Voodoo Coupe would get people two-stepping and swinging on the dance floor. I can also think of one old-time barber shop where I could imagine hearing this band playing while customers get their pompadours touched up. This is real simple. If you like old-fashioned hillbilly music, you’er going to dig Tennessee Voodoo Coupe.

‘Billy Monday: The Living Deads

Not your typical rockabilly

Not your typical rockabilly

If you visit the Facebook page of The Living Deads, you will see that the band is described as “not your typical rockabilly.” If you are at all familiar with this blog, you know that we live for music that is not typical. A further description shows that this is one of those bands that fits right in at Incognito:

A rhythm section born of hate, hellfire and brimstone. With a book of matches, can of gas, and a Louisville Slugger we’ll have a party.

See what I mean?

At first listen, you may not realize what is atypical about this band. You hear a great bass line coming (naturally) from an upright bass. You hear a drummer that provides a good rhythm for the band. And you hear female vocals that have a good deal of toughness. What’s atypical about this band is not the fact that home is wherever the band parks its RV. No, the atypical thing about this band is that the guitarist seems to be an open position. In fact, the bio states that “They have been known to Kidnap guitar players from time to time, drag them on stage in a burlap sack and force them to perform.” Now, I don’t know why a guitarist would be forced to play with The Living Deads. Seems to me like it would be a pretty good time for any guitarist.

So maybe this isn’t your typical rockabilly band (who wants typical anyway?), but this band does have a song about an awesome car (“P.O.N.T.I.A.C”), and a song that will get you stomping those two-tone creepers. “Everything is Broke (but our Love)” is everything that is great about rockabilly: a drum beat that will get your heart going, a bass line that makes you wish you could play the doghouse as well as Symphony Tidwell, and an amazing guitar part. If you like rockabilly even a little, get to know The Living Deads.

Billy Monday: The Infamous Swanks

These guys play at one tempo (fast) and one volume (loud)

These guys play at one tempo (fast) and one volume (loud)

When you go to the ReverbNation page for The Infamous Swanks, the first song you see listed is “Wake Up.” That is probably something you didn’t want to do on this Monday as you stare another week of drudgery in its ugly face. However, maybe if we all woke up to songs like this, Monday mornings might not seem so horrible. The song gets rolling with some great rapid-fire guitar and then the rhythm explodes. Frankly, there’s no other way to describe it the way the bassist and drummer both attack their instruments. The song is only 2:22, but these guys pack a lot into that short span.

The first couple songs I heard from this band are definitely in the Reverend Horton Heat rockabilly category. Then comes “Shirley’s Temple.” This is still in the rockabilly category, but also adds a fair amount of swing with the horns. I’d love to see this one performed live just to see all the cats and kittens swinging on the dance floor.

You get a relatively small sample (only five songs) of the band on the ReverbNation page, but the sample is big enough that you can get the idea of what they’re all about. This is a band that straddles the line between rockabilly and psychobilly. As a general rule, this band plays its songs loudly and at one tempo: fast. If you’re a fan of Reverend Horton Heat, I have no doubt that The Infamous Swanks will fit right in your collection.

‘Billy Monday: Rocketship Rocketship

Surf-tinged rockabilly goodness

Surf-tinged rockabilly goodness

There is no shortage of rockabilly trios. That being the case, there is no shortage of rockabilly guitarists that really know how to play. What is perhaps more unusual in the rockabilly world is when the guitarist is a woman. Before you get your angry letters loaded to send to me, I’m not saying that women can’t play guitar well. I know for a fact that countless women play guitar better than me. Still, rockabilly is very much a boys club, so hearing a female guitarist is unusual. And let me tell you something, loyal reader. Miss Summer of Rocketship Rocketship can play the guitar. If you need a good example of this, check out the surfabilly goodness of “Squad Car!

And playing guitar isn’t the only thing Miss Summer can do. She also sings with a growl that makes you think she’d not only drink your whiskey straight from the bottle, but also take your last smoke when you’re buzzed and feel like you could really use one. Just listen to “Rude Prude” and see if you disagree.

This band makes some good tunes. Unfortunately, it only has four songs to listen to on ReverbNation, but I know that I want to hear more after getting that small sample.