The Surfing Henchmen

Squeal Baby, Squeal

Written by: PP on 20/01/2011 16:27:51

As you all may or may not know, I love punk rock. Its breadth of subgenres consistently present unforgettable moments, be it a unique melody, a speed transition, or just an intelligent lyric, more so than any other umbrella genre definition in my opinion. The scene is akin to a large family, but as with all families, there's always a black sheep. That black sheep, my friends, is punkabilly/rockabilly/psychobilly (etc), a hybrid genre attempting to put together rock'n'roll, punk rock, blues, and even country in a manner that just doesn't work. Granted, there are exceptions like The Living End, The Peacocks, Tiger Army, or even our own local bar-room heroes Racing Decays, but from a holistic viewpoint, the majority of bands in the genre are awful.

Now, imagine a band playing a style they've self-proclaimed as "surf 'n' roll", one closely reminiscent of the hybrid genre I just mentioned, except they've inexplicably decided to shed the vocals altogether.

Instrumental rockabilly/psychobilly.

I can't think of a much less interesting prospect than having to sit through seventeen songs and forty-five minutes of that, though I guess it beats generic power/heavy metal any day. That, however, is what The Surfing Henchmen, located in Århus, Denmark, present on their debut album "Squeal Baby, Squeal". Short, two to three-minute pieces of punkabilly/rockabilly without vocals. Yawn.

One positive aspect is that everyone in the band seems to know exactly what they are doing. Their rendition of the genre is both faithful and experimentalist to some degree, resulting in a uniform, well structured and thought out sound. Some of the grooves, for instance on "Scurvy Twist", are pretty awesome indeed. My main problem, however, lies with the purpose of the record overall. It's far more suitable as the original movie soundtrack for some vintage / film noir style movie than for casual listening. In fact, several sequences from a movie like Sin City could've utilized any number of songs and passages from this album as background music because of its strong focus on mood-setting properties. Additionally, images of the original Pink Panther cartoons come to mind, as a song like "Burlesque" uses similar creepy bass lines and subtle guitar as in the old school version of that show (not the movie, mind you).

In the end, whether you'll like "Squeal Baby, Squeal" will depend on two things: your opinion on the billy styles as a whole, and your mood, as described before. It's a very particular album that you'll use to create just the right setting for a date, or if you're filming a movie of some kind, but not one you'll rock out to 'til late night. With that said, I'm just not friends with this style of punk rock, so take that into consideration when reading this review - you can smell the bias from a mile away.

Download: Scurvy Twist
For the fans of: Racing Decays, Reverend Horton Heat, The Peacocks
Listen: Myspace

Release date 27.08.2010
Self-Released


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