Sin City Scoundrels tear it all up for us! I’ve seen this band fire up and cause mosh pits and bodies flying. I’ve also seen them cause some sexy bump-n-grind on the dance floor. I’m just going to call it. Sin City Scoundrels are a Funk Punk & Roll band out of Memphis, TN. Why cover them in Outlaw Magazine? These cats are so original there’s nothing in mainstream music that compares. For that matter, I haven’t heard anything in the underground circuit that compares. Sin City Scoundrels are alchemists blending Rock, Blues, Funk, Jazz, Punk, Psychedelic, Country, etc . . . you name it they have probably blended it with mastery. How do they do it?
To dive into that mystery let’s take a look at their backgrounds. Chris Hart grew up in a Bluegrass music family playing soft acoustic instruments. He rebelled by gravitating towards the metal and punk scene. As a result, Chris is the heavy hitter on drums and is quickly becoming known as the fastest drummer in Memphis. He keeps a steady snappin beat with a head full of boppin curls and fancy stick twirls (which is most entertaining I might add). John Fayette plays bass for the band and grew up on a farm playing an assortment of music styles including Bluegrass. John takes the lead with wild fingers flying over casual strings, some traditional rolls, and catchy riffs. He further uses a pedal board to get fuzz, distortion, and other cool funky sounds. He’s very meticulous about the band’s sound and will chase it down until he hears the music coming out of the amps the way he hears it in his head. Robbie House plays electric guitar for the band and is a prolific songwriter. He also grew up on acoustic instruments listening to a lot of Pop. For years, Robbie preferred to work out a song’s lyrics and music arrangement on an acoustic guitar before giving it a final go on electric guitar. Robbie added he hasn’t played acoustic guitar in quite some time. He further shares what each member contributes to make them a unique band. “All three members work on the songs together. Chris specializes in beats, time signatures, and lyrics. In addition to being a skilled bassist, Jon is also excellent with production, editing and arrangements. Together we all have specialties that create the driving Sin City Scoundrels tunes you hear live and on the studio albums.”
Each Sin City Scoundrels’ song is distinct yet their sound is congruent. When you hear one of their tunes you know immediately it’s SCS. You will definitely want to hear these boys do their original thing. Robbie usually sings lead vocals, but all three members contribute to lead vocals on their new album. As of this writing, they have just released their new album, House of the Rising Scum. I was privy to be sitting at the House of the Rising Scum while Jon was performing the final CD mix, and I gotta tell you they have brought out each nuance of each instrument and riff. On this CD, as well as live performances, the group is bringing out more and more vocal harmonies. I feel these harmonies are bringing out not only the personality of the songs, but we also get a glimpse of the band’s personality. Take a look at the new album and you’ll find it as complex, fun, upbeat, dark, intelligent, diverse, and extraordinary just like each member in the band.
“Piano on Fire” jumps out of the box like an old time saloon piano, Chris’ mad percussion kicks up, and the music builds and builds into a massive explosion. Just when you think you’re hearing a hardcore punk tune, Jon breaks out his Jim Morrison voice. If you ever wanted to know what Morrison would sound like over Rock-n-Roll Punk . . . this one has it all! Grab the “oh shit” rails, cause you are in for one hell of a good ride with this CD.
“Hooked” sounds kind of old school like The Cramps beach surfing or The Clash on the streets of Brooklyn. The song is well crafted in its orchestration and arrangement. Beats keep your head bangin and the vocals light your senses and excite your wanting even though they’re singing about a mediocre looking girl hookin the rough streets searching for a sugar daddy.
“Gutter Love” for me is driven by the deep fuzzy bass punching out a sexy rhythm. Add Chris slapping me in the face with a drunken love song singing about how it’s going to be over when we’re sober and I’m just all a buzz.
The beginning riff on “Plan B” immediately drops you into the American South. Robbie’s vocal mastery really brings out the home of Sun Studios and propels us into today. The entire song offers a new Pop sound for the cool people.
“Little Miss” also captures the birth place of Rock-N-Roll, only they have included a three part altro and expose a dark corner similar to “Ghost Riders in the Storm.” We of Outlaw Haints found the title fascinating as we recalled the old traditional tune, “Fly Around My Pretty Little Miss” out of the Southern American Mountains. SCS show they are really in touch with the music of their region.
“Tumble & Roll” is like a Jazz Oompah mixed with a Sailor’s Sea Shanty “…ho ho ho and a bottle of rum.” It’s a true sing along.
Music fires up on “Hold Me Closely” and I’m thinking Outlaw Country Rock with a Jimi Hendrix flair. I’m seeing a gunfight in the streets at sundown. Surrounding this intense eye-to-eye moment is a buzzing city of chaos on the sidewalks, but the two in the stand-off hold their ground. After all “…. you can’t hang a man twice.”
“Tall Scotch” is simply John Lee Hooker on punk speed.
“Cold Fish” has a Horror Pop or mummy like feel to it especially considering the theme of the song. Let’s face it … some lays are just dead. Song finishes out with another glimpse of that Jim Morrison voice which is very fitting in making a statement of how it really is out in the cold world.
“DUI” has the guilt of the Ramones sniffing glue only Southern style. “Way too drive to drunk and too drunk to ride.” Just don’t cross the yellow line. These boys know their behind the wheel dead or alive. Great vocals on this Punk & Roll tune, you’ll definitely want to sing along.
All right, on “Dim the Lights” I can’t help but to think of getting sexy with the Stray Cats. Dim the lights one more time for me in a live performance, guys. I gotta grind my hips to the floor! I’ll gladly “go to hell” with you, baby . . . okay next track . . .
I’m listening to “Sunshine” and thinking how the organ reminds me of a 1970’s political statement. About this time, the phone is passed to me to talk with SCS guitartist, Robbie House. He shared that “Sunshine” is indeed a social commentary on how fake cities can be. The glitz of chains stores, restaurants, and venues have taken over and the original, unique shops have been wiped out by corporations. They have left a soulless, heartless wake in the streets.
I continued to talk to Robbie through “13 Leech Factory” and got another inside scoop. This song is a Jazz/Gershwin take on Metal. It’s actually more of joke to the SCS boys and it could be considered a bonus track. You’ll just have to give it a listen and see if you get the joke. Quite frankly, this album is so hot I can’t believe the actual House of the Rising Scum didn’t burn to the ground during the making of the CD.
It’s probably no secret as I’m sure by now you can tell Sin City Scoundrels are great friends of mine. It’s a real thrill and honor for me to be able to feature them in Outlaw Magazine. If I didn’t know them, I would want to know them just from hearing their music. Hainty John discovered the band on one of his first trips to Memphis. We followed their music for several years before we ever met them. Eventually, we were on the same bill for a music festival and our friendship has been sealed ever since. We’ve stayed in each other’s band houses and have brought the sun up on numerous occasions just jammin and laughing. Haints and Scoundrels have played many shows together.
Sin City Scoundrels live performances are always dynamic and full of energy. They have managed to capture that energy and their personal stories on their new album, House of the Rising Scum, available now for download at http://sincityscoundrels.bandcamp.com/. Downloads are based on donations and I highly encourage a donation of $10 as that is what the actual physical CD sells for at live shows. Incidentally, the CD is creatively packaged in a DVD case. I’m telling you these guys are original all the way down to the fine details! Get their music and get a dose of ingenuity and don’t forget to show your love with a thumb up on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/sincityscoundrels . Tell ’em Babs sent you!
~ Babs Martin
Babs Martin is crossing genres and state lines under a new band name, Babs Martin & Outlaw Haints and is looking to make Memphis, TN her new home. She is the host of Kickass Music Women Radio, writer for KMW, and for Outlaw Magazine. For more Babs and Southern Roots Music visit BabsMartin.com.
Read more of the Babs Martin KMW Column Rough Road Darlins Here.
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