San Pedro-based Seatbelt & the Pecking Order's debut album blasts off with an animated wallop of rockabilly and roadhouse. "Break Her Down" starts off cool, but soon vocalist Scott "Seatbelt" McLean's warbling yelps bleed in from the side, nearly overpowered by the background cooing sung flat and deadpan by the ladies of the Hot Air Baguettes. And somehow, this works beautifully. It's an excellent opener to Modern Sounds in Pagan Love Songs, an album that salutes all things honky-tonk and classic American rock, but not without generous portions of caustic humor; the overall feel has a home-brewed quality that's sharp and crass. The effect is a lot like the musical equivalent of moonshine: imagine late rockabilly legend Charlie Feathers drunk and angry.
"Shake That Rack" is an upbeat lindy hop-inspired tune that's perfectly swing-danceable thanks to drummer Dirk "Tex Aubergine" Vandenberg's exquisite timekeeping. (Plus, it's fun to sing along to because it's about boobs.) "Rockabilly Stalker" takes the album to a harsher level and explores the weather-worn, dusty side of country with an ominously joyless tone. GuitaristMark Smith lays down one hell of a twangin' solo on "Stealin' From the Devil," which also brings the spookiness with a slow, threateningly deep voice layered over McLean's own souful storytelling. The whole thing's a no-frills, down-and-dirty rockabilly jewel.
Seatbelt and the Pecking Order: Beware of Honky-Tonk men with caustic humor. Photo by Jen Drolet.
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