Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sounds of the Season: Calabrese

Okay, I originally planned to do a whole helluva lot more of these "Sounds of the Season" things, but the time is getting away from me awful fast. In all reality, I don't know if I'll be able to blog anymore before Halloween, so I may have to save some of the stuff I intended for NEXT year. *sigh* I've tried to represent a fairly diverse batch of music, and maybe not feature bands that are well known to all.

One band I've wanted to blog about for a VERY long time is Calabrese, a horror punk band from Phoenix, AZ. Now, for those not in the know, Horror Punk is a genre that is pretty self explainitory. While it can trace its roots to seminal punk band The Damned, the first "true" horror punk band was the legendary Misfits. In the wake of the 'Fits, many bands sprung up adopting their ghoulish looks and spooky lyrics, often with mixed results. Calabrese is one of the few acts that has successfully managed to pay homage to the Misfits, while also expanding and incorporating other diverse influences.

Calabrese is comprised of three brothers, using their last name as the band's moniker. All three sport a look that resembles the T-Birds from Grease...if they had become the thralls of Dracula! Their sound is a driving horror punk that features elements of hard rock, southern rock and rockabilly. Lyrically, they spin classic tales of terror that wouldn't be out of place in the EC comics of yore. Songs like "Voices of the Dead", "Midnight Spookshow" and "Your Ghost" are catchy as hell, yet have a hard rocking edge.

One of my favorite elements of this band is the fact that they never sacrifice their sound to be "safe", yet you can play their discs around your kids without any worry (unless the subject matter worries you...and if it does why the hell are you reading MY blog???). I know I've mentioned whether or not these discs could be played with children around on pretty much every one of these entries, and it has nothing to do with prudishness (for those that know me, I hear you laughing at that notion!). Being a dad myself, I pay attention to those types of things, and I make sure to not play certain songs around my kids. I figure if you are reading this, and considering getting some of this music for a Halloween party, you might want to know if it is kid friendly if you are a parent. I digress. My point is, quite simply, that Calabrese doesn't have a buncha F bombs in their tunes, but none of their stuff seems like it has been homogenized to please the masses. It is still kick ass hard rocking punk!

One of the reasons I think Calabrese works so well is that they don't seem to take themselves too seriously. The tongue is always planted firmly in cheek, and it frees them up to just have a good time with their tunes of terror. I had the pleasure of seeing these guys last year in San Antonio, and they were just as good live as they are on record (a true rarity with many bands). They play with an energy and ferocity that is missing in much modern Horror Punk (oh, and they can actually PLAY! That also sets them apart)! Now, don't get me wrong: they take their music VERY seriously, but everything else about them is done with a wink and a gnash of the fangs. Oh, and don't tell anyone, but they're actually really nice guys. They spent hours indulging me asking them question after question, and they graciously took the time to listen and answer.

Back to the tunes...yeah, these guys kick all kinds of ass. They have two full length discs: 13 Halloweens and The Travelling Vampire Show, both of which are solid, fear-filled spins through a haunted world (a third disc is currently being recorded). You can purchase their discs from their official site, as well as all kinds of cool merch (these guys have recruited some of the best artists in the horror medium to create fantastic shirts and stickers):

You can also get their discs off of iTunes, including their now out-of-print first EP, Midnight Spookshow, which contains earlier versions of tunes that later appeared on the full-length releases.

In short, no band SINCE the Misfits has been able to pull off horror punk the way these guys have. Quite frankly, I find them to be the true heirs to the 'Fits legacy, far surpassing other bands in the genre. If you dig this sound, and just want to have some great rocking tunes for your Halloween party, then check out Calabrese. They truly are the world's greatest Horror Rock Band!!!


Jimmy Calabrese said...

Thanks for the great review in your "Sounds of the Season." The envelope of cash is in the mail.

The Gill-Man said...

Ha! :D