Reverend Horton Heat: Laughin’ and Cryin’ with the Reverend Horton Heat CD review (Shockhound)

It’s been almost 20 years since the Reverend Horton Heat brought his unique brand of rockabilly revivalism to the grunge-addled buyers of all things Sub Pop. The Reverend’s quirky, inverse Squaresville approach eschewed a lot of the tattoos-and-hot-rods hokiness associated with mainstream rockabilly, emphasising instead a proto-punk, pre-Elvis twang. Ironically, as bandleader Jim Heath gets on in years, the Reverend Horton Heat’s sound is getting more and more traditional, having lost much of its punk-rock punch and settled into white-boy-blues balladeering. That’s not to say the the Reverend’s new disc is toothless; from the tightly wound rumble of “Drinkin’ and Smokin’ Cigarettes” to the bruising, biker-ready groove of “River Ran Dry,” the band still is quite capable of delivering some powerful rockabilly poundings. Unfortunately, quite a few numbers here are too slow (“Aw, the Humanity”) or too silly (“Please Don’t Take the Baby to the Liquor Store” or the semi-sexist “Just Let Me Hold My Paycheck”) to keep this new disc from feeling like something of a step backward. Of course, when your 20-year-old band is steeped in the sounds from 50 years ago, taking a step backward isn’t necessarily career suicide, now is it?

First appeared Sep. 1, 2009 at Shockhound.com.

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