Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Yeller Bellies – Boys Will Be Boys

Opening like the best spaghetti western, this debut CD by the Yeller Bellies then revs into overdrive with a soundtrack that shoulda been in “Bullets, Booze & Sombreros” – including some cool mandolin licks from singer Rob Bell. With the introductions out of the way, Bell leads us into “Gutter Dogs”, which gives us an indication of what’s to come – C&W & punk influenced rock’n’roll with a rock steady rhythm section (Jimmy Krah on drums and Mitch Potter slapping the upright bass), cool, reverbed riffs from guitarist Joel Hillhouse and Bell crooning & bellowing real songs with real lyrics. 

The guys jump all the way back to the 20’s for the inspiration for “Has Anybody Seen My Gal”, although this is an original – not the traditional tune. “Animal Instinct” has truly clever lyrics and a more traditional rockabilly sound, which continues in “Black Haired Betty” – you can see the cats & kittens doing the flip, flop & fly as these songs zip by. They slow things down a bit for the minor-chord driven “Haunted”, a duet with Rob & his lovely-voiced wife, Danielle, with harmonies that will give you chills. Guest guitarist Raj Rathor does a helluva job on this number, as well. Rob spits out some irreverently hilarious lyrics in the country-driven “Damn, Your Savior is Strict” and then revels in downright licentiousness in the slower “Here Kitty Kitty”.

There’s some high-energy rockin’ with the wittily-titled “Don’t You Know Who I Think I Am?” and, again, Hillhouse shines on some country-inspired riffage. “Siren Song” is a hillbilly serenade with some more sweet harmonies by Danielle which then blasts into the uptempo rockabilly of “Hot Rod Baby” (which, to my ears, at least, echoes a bit of the Commander Cody tune, “Hot Rod Lincoln”).

I really love the gospel-influenced “Touched By the Hand of the Lord” with Rob & Danielle again dueting in the intro with only handclaps backing them, before the guys come in with just the right melodic, churchy touch. The closing, title track is a major departure from the rest of the album, with accordion and a waltz-time rhythm which then tales off into the stratosphere with some of the fastest rockin’ on the record! They alternate a couple of times before finally letting it loose.

These two Yeller Bellies CDs are a couple of my faves of the year (along with the Lucky Cheats) – I know they’re not playing any more but you are doing yourself a disservice if you do not own this terrific twosome!