Scarlet Fever - Burn Out the Sun...Stay Out All Night (Cover Artwork)

Scarlet Fever

Burn Out the Sun...Stay Out All Night (2010)


Everyone knows that when it comes to a sound as primal as rock and roll, faster means better. Bo Diddley knew it. So did Minor Threat and Napalm Death, and even Chuck Berry. If you want to stamp your name all over an extant genre of music, play it faster and play it better than anyone else. That's what the above artists did, and it's what Scarlet Fever's doing now with psychobilly.

They started out like most psycho bands: singing goofy songs about werewolves and slutty witches, abusing their whammy bars and using way too much reverb (reverb, reverb). But that was years ago. They've replaced the Elvis impersonations with wild howling, traded their tremolo for shit-hot solos, switched subject matter and cranked up the BPMs by a few hundred. In fact, only the meanest ghost of psychobilly can be found on their their eponymous album. The songs are so fast, so loud, so unhinged that the label just doesn't apply. How about fastabilly? Speedabilly? Thrashabilly?

While most bands they grew up listening to sang about gargoyles and hot rods, the Cleveland trio stays firmly rooted in a beer-soaked reality. "20/20 Vision" is a 40-second ode to everyone's favorite bum wine, and standout track "Social Suicide" reads like a police report of the wildest party ever thrown this side of Caligula.

Elsewhere, the band rides impossibly fast drums over huge hooks. The call-and-response mayhem of "Rabid" crashes face-first into a vitriolic chorus fully equipped with gang vocals. The lead singer's howling is frequently interrupted by shouts from the diminutive bassist, whose real genius lies in knowing which lines are just absolutely perfect to scream as oral punctuation ("Drop dead"; "They got the soul, we got the guts," et al). On "Man with No Name," his cries of "It's time we face it--we're already wasted" immediately segue into a blistering bass solo that puts all his peers to shame.

Of course, fastabilly√ā¬© ain't for everyone. The genre's minor chords still abound, which might turn some away. And for psychobilly purists, the album might seem like a monumental departure that warrants nothing but to be ignored. But Scarlet Fever isn't reinventing the wheel--they're just making it a hell of a lot faster.