New York’s Gotham Rockets are first and foremost a party band. Representing so much you loved about the mid-late 70s and recycling it for a twenty-first century audience, their debut EP features four feel good tunes, heavy on the saxophone and even heavier on high octane good vibes. The production values are a little ragged, but its songs provide a good old rock ‘n’ roll injection that’ll appeal to fans of the band’s label mates The Dirty Truckers and Nat Freedberg along with a few other retro sounds from yesteryear.
There’s a feeling of high spirits at a packed out Ramsgate Music Hall this evening. Part of that is due to summer having finally kicked in – we’ve just sweated our way through two of the hottest days of the year – but more than that, there’s a genuine excitement surrounding the return of tonight’s headliners, KOLARS. Despite being based in the US, Rob Kolar (vox, gtr) and Lauren Brown (drums, tap dancing) almost feel like they’re seaside dwellers from Kent by now and the locals love them. They’ve played the venue twice during the previous fifteen months, but they’re the kind of band people would come out for even if the venue booked them even more often. KOLARS are pretty enamoured with the small venue too, having chosen it to record live material back in July 2018.
The 70s were an incredibly fertile time for music. The decade began with the earlier purveyors of hard rock and metal – Deep Purple, Black Sabbath et al – and ended in a similar fashion with bands like Iron Maiden and Saxon spearheading what had been dubbed the New Wave of Heavy Metal. Somewhere between the two metal-oriented goalposts, funk begat disco and progressive rock roamed the landscape like a giant self-indulgent behemoth; punk inspired a generation to create DIY sounds and the likes of ELO, David Essex, 10cc and Pilot were at the forefront of pop perfection. David Bowie and Marc Bolan bought androgyny into the mainstream and Roxy Music looked and sounded like they’d been dropped to earth by aliens. Looking back – maybe with some rose-tinted glasses – the 1970s seemed to be a time when new musical ground was being broken month after month.
Mixing the cool of old soul 45s and a dusting of various rock ‘n’ roll revival meetings, Shanda & The Howlers are the sound of trouble walkin’. With a twang and a howl, their debut full length more than proves that you don’t always need originality to make a hell of an impression – you just need tightness, guts and a whole lot of conviction. It may so often be reminiscent of many a talent from a pre-Beatle era, but the band’s debut release ‘Trouble’ is a driven and fun affair that’s sure to thrill those who love Sharon Jones and maybe even impress those who dig a few late 50s throwbacks. Simply put, ‘Trouble’ is a really classy rock ‘n’ soul revue.