Such is my coverage of Rum Bar Records’ bands, it’s getting to the point where people will wonder whether there’s a little bit of payola in progress. I can assure you that is not the case. Look, it’s not my fault the label are pumping out hit release after hit release. Which brings us neatly to Cheap Gunslingers. Operating out of St. Petersburg (Florida) and Asheville (NC), this band of delinquents led by the revered Edo McGrady of the Gotohells, have only gone and dropped an A-bomb of a punk rock record.
Shamelessly borrowing from The Modern Lovers, one of my favourite places kickstarts this self-titled long player. The place in question is the Record Store. I can feel my fingers getting dusty as Cheap Gunslingers pound out of my speakers like a Roadrunner from hell. Good Time quickly backs things up with a real cool vibe that lays somewhere between Ramones and The Boys. Some strategically placed “Oohs” and “Ahhs” add to the pop sensibilities. Perfect.
It’s floor tom pounding for Defective; a short, sharp, straightforward rock ‘n’ roll guitar laden track. Maybe the most telling song title is up next; that is, Three Chords. Hey, that’s all you need to start a band. There’s a certain sparsity to Cheap Gunslingers’ songwriting and production, and I kinda like it.
Run Girl is a Great Big Kiss of a tune with a catchy chorus that wouldn’t sound amiss on a 1960s teenage tragedy song compilation. Definitely an album highlight that’s been etched in my brain for quite some time, right down to the sneaky off-key Beatles-esque harmonies right at the very end. Damn you, Cheap Gunslingers!
With the spit of Stiv Bators and the swagger of Johnny Thunders, Junky Friends offers a lead break that threatens to tentatively fall apart at any given moment. For the record, I find that quite beautiful. Just when you think it’s all punk rock, the band throw in a riff that Keef would be proud of on Please Kill Me. It’s barroom rocking stuff that despite the songs lyrical content, puts a great big smile on my chops. I’m three years sober but this almost tipped me off the wagon.
Cheap Gunslingers briefly take their foot off the gas for Water Table Line and it’s most welcome as we head down the home straight. The penultimate Off the Rails invites you to put on your best dancing daps to do the punk rock twist and last out of the bag is the fittingly bluesy Bars of the Song with its 1950s chord sequence. “It’s all over” is the cry, but hey, we can do it all again, right?
Cheap Gunslingers prove that you haven’t got to race at a million miles an hour to have an impact. With their self-titled album they’ve perfectly straddled that line between punk and new wave. It’s a compelling listen for lovers of honest rock ‘n’ roll. Y’know, the stuff that can’t be faked. Cheap Gunslingers have opened their hearts and they deserve some reciprocation in return. Oh, and tell your friends. Even the junky ones. Ginge Knievil
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