Raygun Cowboys - Bloodied but Unbroken (Cover Artwork)

Raygun Cowboys

Bloodied but Unbroken (2019)

Stomp records

One of the joys of being a staff reviewer for Punk News is the opportunity to hear unreleased music early, so that reviews can be posted on the day of the release. When the opportunity to get a copy of Edmonton’s Raygun Cowboy’s newest release Bloody but Unbroken arrived, I took said opportunity. I had never heard any of their stuff, but with Cowboy in their name, and psychobilly in their bandcamp description, I felt like this would be right up my alley.

That said, I was ultimately shocked by what I heard when I first started playing the record. If you can, imagine MU330, in their 90’s prime, ties and jackets and all, but with pompadours, slicked and greased hair, and a stand-up bass. That’s the mental image I got when first hearing these guys rendition of Ska-chobilly (a term I’ve invented). Drawing vocal stylings from bands like Tiger Army, but with the glitz and joyous melodies of our favorite 90’s ska punk bands.

Their cover of “Walk of Life” by Dire Straits, which ends the album, is the perfect summation of what these guys did with 10 tracks. It’s just goofy enough to get you smiling, yet somehow serious enough to make you believe they are as serious as any band determined to make a living playing music.

Most of the album had me guessing how this hodge-podge of genres could even have been contemplated, but the more I listened, the more I fell down the rabbit hole. I’ve heard horns in rockabilly/psychobilly, but not “ska” horns. I’ve heard ska bands with vocalists that sound like their dog just died on the same day their girlfriend left them for their best friend, but those ska bands usually have a more melancholy sound to their horns section. These horns were upbeat, brandishing a sound so unique that I cannot compare it to any other band I’ve ever heard.

I thought I hated this album, but then I relistened to tracks like “Jonesin’” and “YEG”, and somehow I found myself singing along to this band, despite my utter disbelief that this music even exists. And then, “Walk on Life”, well that grew on me too.

I’m not sure who this record is for, but it definitely will not be one that I forget. If you have a bit of time, throw it on, and find out what you think of the newest punk genre, ska-chobilly? Or psycho-ska? Whatever you call it, it definitely has the spirit of punk flowing through it.