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The Coffinshakers – Graves, Release Your Dead (2023)

The Coffinshakers keep reaching me by surprising ways. Halfway the 1990’ies I found a flyer of their “Vampiric country music undead” among more usual metal (and related) flyers. Country music in the dark metal scene. Odd, yet amusing.

Many years later I was working through the psychobilly (and “gothabilly”) scene and I learned that The Coffinshakers were still undead and kicking. It seemed that the band did play live, but not outside Scandinavia, so I started to suggest them for the Wave Gotik Treffen every year, especially when that festival started to incorporate psychobilly, The Coffinshakers would fit wonderfully. No succes so far.

Then earlier this year The Coffinshakers were announced to play at the Helldorado festival in my home town! I immediately bought tickets. Helldorado is the follow up of Speedfest. Speedfest towards the end was no longer a strictly speedrock/psychobilly festival as other kinds of rock and metal started to be booked as well. Helldorado was last weekend. There was a stage with mainly metal, a stage with different kinds of rock and a small stage for a variety of bands, including a psychobilly band and… The Coffinshakers.

The band gave a wonderful show. Rob Coffinshaker mentioned that there was a new album after 16 years of silence. Fortunately they played many up-tempo old songs, some dating back almost three decades.

The new album is (on the Coffinshakers scale) down- to midtempo, fairly melancholic, at times very accessible, but still with the Vampire-theme lyrics. An odd mix with songs that would fit well on Americana-type radio shows, yet with lyrics that require a certain kind of humor. The album is nice. The band has good musicians and Rob still has his Johnny Cash-type voice. So when you are looking for something out of the ordinary, The Coffinshakers still are.

Links: The Coffinshakers, Svart Records

The Coffinshakers / The Archers (7″ 2011)

1995. I was in my ‘transition period’ from metal to something else. Still from within the metal scene a flyer reached me. It was a weird, handdrawn flyer announcing “vampyric country music” and “country undead”. Wondering what that would be, I got myself a copy of a wonderfull demo. Then followed two 7″s (1996 and 1999) and a 12″ (2000). After that I lost track of this Swedish band, but this was not due to them. Two more albums and four 7″s were thrown towards the masses, but it was only recently that I found out that the band still exists. They opened one of the “gothabilly” compilations and recently a split 7″ was released. The music indeed reminds a bit of country, American hillbilly music, sometimes the songs are uptempo and relatively cheerfull, sometimes the songs are more modest and reminding of Johnny Cash. The lyrics are horror-themed, ‘biographically’ vampiric, sometimes about voodoo or similar subjects, but vampires make the most part of the inhabitents of the Coffinshakers songs. I do not know if the band knew about the psychobilly bands when they started with their project, but thematically and somewhat in sound, these can be quite similar. I have seen Coffinshakers patches on psychobilly jacks, so that scene found the band for sure. The music is not strictly speaking “psychobilly”, there is not really rock and roll or horror punk, “country undead” remains a good description. There are two nice songs on the 7″, The Archers (a band that I did not know) has slightly more psychobilly sound, but also not too typical and with surf-elements. A nice combination, a nice release.
Links: The Coffinshakers, The Archers, Alleycat Records

The Monsters * Pop Up Yours! (cd 2011)

The Monsters are a Swiss band that have been releasing music since 1989, so I should definately have heard of them. The name rang a bell, but they probably do not play my kind of music. Yesterday I was at Coffin Carnival, a rockabilly/psychobilly festival in Eindhoven and there I saw Te Monsters. They are not really a psychobilly band. They describe their own music in different ways. “wild primitive chainsaw massacre teenage trash garage clonedrum fuzz rock’n’roll”, “Their sound is a fuzzedout mix between 60ies garage punk, wild teenage trash rockabilly and primitive rock‘n‘roll. Its 187% no MTV and top 100 shit!” also “garage punk” and “blues trash” are terms that can be found on the website, shirts or merchandise. Also funny: “if it’s too loud, you’re too old” (110+ db). Their show in the Effenaar was brilliant. There are too guys with a guitar or bass and a microphone, both I estimate over 50 years old. One (the one steady band member, Beat-Man) has a funny haircut, but the other one (Janosh) looks like a professor. Then there are two drummers, or to clarify: “clonedrum: means 2 drummers with only 1 1/2 drums, hitting thhe same bassdrum from each side”. The result is extremely energetic and very raw “punk’n’roll”. Sometimes Motörhead is in the sound, but The Monsters are much more punky and aggressive. The basis is indeed rock’n’roll and according to Beat-Man this is what psychobilly sounds like in Switserland contrary to German or Dutch psychobilly. In any case, “Pop Up Your!” seems to be the first album since 2002 and in most tracks The Monsters deliver the energy that they have on stage. Brought with humor and a massive deal of enjoyment. It was great to see four ‘old people’ (but what is old eh?) having so much fun on stage and delivering such raw rock’n’roll.
The Monsters, Voody Rhythm

Kamikaze Queens * Automatic Life (cd 2011)

However, especially in the last years, I listen to a wide variety of music, you do not see all that much of that here. It proves hard to keep up with all kinds of scenes and when I run into something good, usually we are talking about stone-age releases. One of the styles that I listen to more and more is psychobilly. I probably heard Kamikaze Queens on some time, but a while ago I saw them live in Utrecht accompanying a “burlesque circus”. KQ just released their second album. They are not “psychobilly” strictly speaking. The booklet says: “this is Berlin punk cabaret” which I also do not find a perfect description. Sure, the band has come cabaretesk elements, here and there in the music, but this is mostly in performance. Both “Voluptuous Panic” (2008) and “Automatic Life” are (in my opinion) better described as rockabilly-based punky alternative rock music (perhaps even ‘pop music’). The rhythms could navigate the band in rockabilly/psychobilly areas, but the music is more straight-forward poprock, with a serious punky edge, but ‘cleaner’ than some psychobilly. The last part of the album is more interesting with more cabaret and psychobilly. I must say that however the music of KQ is enjoyable, I prefer the ‘real’ psychobilly sound. Not a bad album though with some nice songs.
Links: Kamikaze Queens, Sounds Of Subeterrania