The cliché goes "They live and breathe music." Consider the case of Speedbuggy front man Timbo, who led the band back from a seven year hiatus after he survived and healed from a brain aneurysm only to endure a major house fire five week before the band departed on a European tour. It's no surprise that the album is full of hard luck songs and that even the title itself conjures up unbridled energy. Speedbuggy lives up to it.
The band is legendary in L.A.'s cowpunk scene and this is their ninth album. Ringing with twang, they also meld in roots, rock, soul and blues with guitars that jangle, sting and soar depending on the tune. They are a quintet featuring dual guitars of Timbo and Seth Von Paulus along with mandolin, lap slide pedal steel. They used about 30 different guitars including Timbo's choice of a '60s white Falcon given to him by Stephen Stills. They also felt it was important to get a Rickenbacker into the mix. Played at high volume, these guitars will ring in your head for days.
Speedbuggy sings blue collar songs based on some usual country-sounding subjects like truckers, bull riders, rail riders and, of course, heartbreak. They alternate between tear jerking ballads and rocking country songs, all delivered with heavy doses of honky tonk. The two familiar covers, opener "The Last Train to Clarksville" and "Unchain My Heart" fit well with the 11 originals.
"Get Around" is a swampy blues tune echoing Timbo's Louisiana roots. The trucker tunes are the ballad "Shaky Town" and the enthusiastic closer "Darlin' I'm Coming Home" while the frenzied "South Bound" goes to the rails, complete with a train whistle in the mix. Given the long hiatus, three songs were dusted off and brought to the sessions - "Sorry," the album's best ballad, the kicking "Wood, Screws, and Nails" and pure country "Honky Tonk Singer." That tune and the mandolin-driven "Hold My Head Up High" proves the band can handle acoustic tunes too, yet it's clear they'd rather rattle the rafters and dial up the amps.
Good stories, terrific picking and a gamut of gritty emotions are the essence of Speedbuggy. It's ideal for your car's cd player. Crank it up and go.