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Custom Acceleration 
Artist:  The Calicoes 
Label: Velvet Blue Music  
Length: 10 songs / 31:53
The recent rise of interest in various alternative versions of rock-a-billy may be largely owed to the resurgence of former Stray Cat's front-man Brian Setzer's success and his imitators. Yet, The Calicoes have wisely avoided trying to mimic either the Brian Setzer Orchestra or the Stray Cats, though they come closer to being a psycho-punk-a-billy version of the latter. Like Setzer, The Calicoes can pen a good old love-gone-wrong song, but it's not likely you'll hear Setzer making spiritual overtures to the Lord of all Creation anytime soon as The Calicoes do with sheer Sunday School gusto. For the most part, The Calicoes keep their lyrics as simple as the musical style: straight forward and in-your-face. The production renders the music loud, fuzzy and sparse as well, leaving this Texan trio ample room to churn their drum, guitar, bass mix to the max with little if any studio embellishments. 

Custom Acceleration is an apt title for this rowdy, revved-up rock-a-billy. This album would certainly qualify as an entirely full-throttle rock assault if it were not for the ballad "Greaser-show" which provides a welcome respite. When cranked up to 11 the vast majority of these tunes will put a throbbing bass beat in your chest and a silly tap in your penny loafers. The Calicoes also offer some rambunctious instrumentals, like "Cosmic Thrill" and the almost instrumental "Rice Burner (#2)," both of which, even in the virtual absence of sing-along-able lyrics, are good party numbers ala The Ventures. Riding the tide of the current fad to fuse punk's raw power with the jangle of old time rock-a-billy, The Calicoes make a solidly convincing, well constructed contribution to the genre. Elvis on fire, indeed. 

Steven Stuart Baldwin   10/24/00  


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