Reverse Cowgirls: Hokum – album review

Reverse Cowgirls – Hokum (Northern Cowboy Records)

CD / DL

8/10

Louder Than War reviews the debut album by Glaswegian garage rock freakout-merchants Reverse Cowgirls.

Those with very long memories may remember Reverse Cowgirls Hugh Mclachlan from Norman Blake’s pre-Teenage Fanclub band The Faith Healers. Any lingering hint of indie has been erased from the slate with this, his new venture some 30 years later.

Reverse Cowgirls take a well-worn template and update it with their own dark humour. Garage rock a la The Seeds, the Shadows Of Knight and the 13th Floor Elevators are the touchstones although there is a hint of the Medway scuzz sound for those of us old enough to remember Thee Milkshakes and The Stingrays.

Garage punk  has a bit of history in Glasgow, and Reverse Cowgirls follow in the cuban heeled footsteps of luminaries such as James King And the Lone Wolves, The Kissing Bandits and The Primevals.

Mclachlan is a charismatic frontman and his yelping, hiccuping vocal sound lends the Cowgirls a demented air. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a singer too, with a deep, sonorous tone at odds with his shrieks and whoops.  The band, with new guitarist Terry Tochel now onboard, are a tight, focused unit despite the furious tempo of most of the material.

The endearing thing about Hokum  is the way many of the songs seem familiar; there’s nothing that’s a straight lift but many of the hooks seem like age-old companions. Three Women opens the album and is a clutch of chords which quickly becomes hypnotic in their circuitous sturm und drang.  Alaine Alison Walls adds sweet backing vocals and slinky bass to the songs strident, slashing rhythms. There’s a touch of krautrock to John Gordon’s precision drumming which suits the songs perfectly.

 

There’s little let up in the pace of the eleven songs although there is plenty of melodic flourishes. The Boy Can’t Help It sees Mclachlan and Walls vocals mesh effortlessly amid the Phil Spector / Shangri-Las sweep of the song.

My Love recalls Nuggets-era garage sneer. Again, the song sounds like a long-lost brother and the chorus is a mind virus with lazer-guitars set to stun. For those of you who loved The Stooges and the MC5, there’s a new group of  bad boys (and girl) on the block. They won’t win the Mercury Prize anytime soon, but give them a sweaty room full of psych-punk lovers and watch them burn it down.

Hokum is clearly The Reverse Cowgirls current live set as well as their first album and this is no bad thing; they’re a new band and the enthusiasm and energy cut through the frantic blitz of the songs. They’ve evolved exponentially since I first caught them live a year or so ago and it’s intriguing to think how they may develop in the months to come.

Watch this space.

The Reverse Cowgirls can be found on Facebook HERE.

All words by Joe Whyte. More work by Joe on Louder Than War can be found here

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