Raygun Cowboys’ latest album The Cowboy Code is ensconced with their signature psychobilly blend, but one thing jumped out at me upon first listening: Frontman Jon Christopher sings like Elvis and Tom Jones had a child that was born with three testicles. This is a very positive thing.
Before getting into the grits and gruel of the album, I would like to make a whole-hearted thank you to the band for the wonderful cover of the album. Too often do albums cross my desk with doe-eyed musicians standing shoulder-to-shoulder as if their posture were enough to make me want to listen to their music. A big high-five to Steph Gautier (ex-Subb bassist) for the wonderful concept art on the album, as it compliments the band’s aesthetic and offers more than just a bunch of dudes standing around. Anyway, on to the album.
Christopher (flanked by Oakland Valleau, Derek Thiesen, Jonny McCormack, Zack Semaniuk and Mike Anderchuck) has assembled another gem of an album.
I must confess, I feel that rockabilly sometimes has the problem of being redundant. One song saunters into the other as if one big doo-wop-a-ditty puppy pile. While The Cowboy Code does offer what fans of the genre love (that doo-wop-a-ditty), it is broken up by great songwriting and satisfying hooks.
The album starts off guns-a-blazing in the form of “It’s Coming Down,” an uptempo warning anthem of pre-end-of-the-world antics and catchiness. This anti-Trump pro-rational track creates visions of Americans hopping on their horses and galloping north to snowy freedom.
“Robocop” is a fun little ditty and wins the ‘quote of the album’ award. The song-stopping line where one voice is unaware that Robocop is from Detroit, while the other doesn’t know where Detroit is because he was home schooled by his parents. It’s a fun tune with lines woven in from the film.
There is one stand out and it is not their own—though it should be. As many bands know, it is difficult to do covers. You either do it straight up with the possibility of making a carbon copy of the original, or you try to make it your own in hopes of capturing the magic that makes the song wonderful. With SNFU’s “Painful Reminder,” the Cowboys give the song new breath. With a full, deeper sound than the original, they not only do the song justice, but find the aforementioned ‘magic’ and paint an equally wonderful picture of it. A doff of the hat to SNFU, but at the same time, they make their mark own on the song.
In all, the album works well and Raygun Cowboys may not be reinventing the wheel, but they don’t need to because the wagon still works.
The group will be showing off this collection of sounds Fri., May 12 at the Needle Vinyl Tavern with guests The Gutter Demons, The Real Sickies, and The Devil’s Sons.
The Cowboy Code