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.
In April 2016, Contessa & The Squires released ‘Stomp The Bomb‘ [retitled ‘Stomp The Bomp’ at some outlets], an enjoyable – if brief – voyage into rockabilly sounds with a European accent. It was one of those recordings that deserved more attention; between the short, punchy songs and a feel-good attitude, the band sounded very professional and as if the recording process had been fun. At the end of October that same year, they made an unexpectedly hurried return with ‘Horrorama’ which, as its title suggests, tied in with Halloween.
Armed with a love of Rocket From The Crypt and (the) Misfits, Peterborough punk ‘n’ rollers The Moonshiners are set to slap you in the jaw with a potent, riff-heavy sound on their untitled 2017 EP . Their self-financed release serves up half an album’s worth of raw and dirty noise and couples the best riffs with a few top-notch hooks, which results in an unmissable listen for fans of the style.
Aside from a brief spell in the early 80s when Stray Cats, The Jets and The Polecats managed to break into the UK top forty singles chart, rockabilly has never truly been in fashion. That said, it’s never been out of fashion, either; over the decades, it’s retro and surprisingly enduring style has caught the ears of many, often providing a genuine alternative to the relative mainstream of punk. Rockabilly’s undying spirit has rarely been captured in better form than on The Long Tall Texans’ 2014 release ‘The Devil Made Us Do It‘ – a record that showed how a band three decades into a career could still sound vibrant and how the attitudes of rockabilly had such potential to cross into punk audiences. When done well, rockabilly can be thrilling; when missing the mark, it can sound too predictable to the point of tiredness, but whatever the outcome, the constituent elements are often the same: hefty rattling basslines; walking grooves from the reverbed guitars and a flippant and sometimes edgy voice.
Occupying a musical space somewhere between noisier rockabilly revivalism and the more accessible end of the psychobilly movement, Italian outfit Contessa & The Squires very much bring a party atmosphere on their third EP, 2016’s ‘Stomp The Bomb’. On these tracks, they don’t just stomp, but twist and shake with a whiskey-fuelled retro cool that should appeal to those who loved the Stray Cats, Polecats and The Jets back in 1981. If you’re approaching this hoping for a Meteors or Brains level of intensity, however, it’s very much time for you to step aside. The Squires are high energy, but in direct comparison to some of the scene’s more intense bands, accessible melodies are far more at the forefront here.