Friday, May 27, 2016

Meet The Backseat Angels!

If it seems like I've been writing a lot about Rum Bar Records lately, that's because the label is riding a hot streak that even Xander Bogaerts would envy. From Indonesian Junk to that Connection reissue to The Phantoms, Malibu Lou has been cranking out the hits this year. I picture him with a drink in one hand and his phone in the other - constantly fielding calls from the top garage, punk, and power pop bands on the planet. And now Rum Bar territory expands to mainland Europe with the release of Saturday Night Shakes - the debut album from Belgium's Backseat Angels. This just might be the "poppiest" thing that Lou has ever released - and you know I ain't complaining!

The Backseat Angels are fronted by singer/guitarist Eric Knoxx - formerly of Belgian surf/garage greats the Vice Barons. He's joined by Tom The Bomb on guitar, Marc on bass, and Franck on drums. The band formed last summer and has very quickly turned out the highly enjoyable long player that I'm reviewing today. If you're expecting something similar to the Vice Barons, you will be surprised. The Backseat Angels make no attempt to hide their influences - which are early '70s U.K. glam rock, new wave era power pop, and the classic pop/punk stylings of The Undertones, Boys, and Ramones (Yeah, I know: that sure sounds like something I'd be into!). The band mashes these influences together, injects its own personality, and comes out with a sound I'd describe as bubblegum glam. I really admire the band for making such an unabashedly pop record. Its songs are quintessential ear candy - with deliberately silly lyrics and melodies so sweet that they'll rot your teeth. Saturday Night Shakes is an album for those of us who don't need music to make some kind of serious statement but do require it to be catchy and fun. Knoxx has written a batch of tunes that are pretty much impossible to resist. Lightweight or not, these songs will have you clapping your hands, stomping your feet, and singing along in public view (except for "School Bus Driver", which could probably get you arrested in at least 27 states).

From the Ramones gone power pop stylings of "My Baby Wants To Brainwash My Mind" to the Undertones worship of "Saturday Night" and "Stupid Brats" to the gooey glammy bubblegum of "Peppermint Girl" to the organ-driven goodness of "Hard To Tame" to the spot-on Sweet mimicry of "Crazy Like A Fox", Saturday Night Shakes is stacked with hits. Listen once, and you'll be hearing these songs in your head for days. It can't be a coincidence that an album like this arrives just in time for summer - when we crave fun, upbeat music for our warm weather adventures. And with two more must-hear albums lined up for release in the coming weeks, the Rum Bar is definitely stocking the good stuff. You know I'll keep you posted!


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