It's hard to describe Los Straitjackets without using a certain worn-out adjective. Why, you might ask? Because Los Straitjackets are cool, plain and simple. From the wrestling masks they wear on stage to their glittery Fender guitars, they are et up with the cool. The World Famous Pontani Sisters, a sweet-as-pie troupe of burlesque revivalists, can often be found touring with these guys. The Pontanis are a discriminating bunch of feather-clad vixens, so it's plain to see that Los Straitjackets got it going on. Former Planet Rocker Eddie Angel, a devilish rockabilly who has played alongside legends such as Link Wray and Ronnie Dawson, is this group's featured attraction. He's a precision player capable of playing any style so well you'd swear it was his specialty. For their most recent recording, Sing Along With Los Straitjackets, the instrumentally inclined Angel and company attracted a roster of hyper-hip vocalists. The Flyrite Boys frontman Big Sandy is featured, as is El Vez, the Blasters' Dave Alvin, X's Exene Cervenka, the Reverend Horton Heat, and Nick Lowe. But the best track of all is a cover of the Skeeter Davis classic "(Don't They Know It's) The End of the World." All I can say is it's too bad this stellar lineup can't possibly go on tour together. Still, when Los Straitjackets play the Hi-Tone CafÇ on Sunday, September 30th, you can bet your last Lucky all the cool kids will be there.
Now I've heard some folks dis Jack Oblivian's solo projects for being too sloppy. These people want to rave about how Greg Oblivian was the genius behind the Oblivians. To this I say pshaw. Yep, I said pshaw. No doubt, Greg Cartwright/Oblivian's solo sound is perhaps a bit more refined than that of his musical brother, but when you listen to discs like Jack's So Low or the fantastic American Slang, it's easy to see where the Oblivians' true grit came from. His band The Tearjerkers out-Johnny Thunders Johnny Thunders. Well, when they are in tune, anyway. There will be a party at Murphy's on Friday, September 28th, to celebrate the arrival of the Tearjerkers' first album, Bad Moon Rising. Should be a wild one.-- Chris Davis
On his fourth album, Memphis In the Morning, New Orleans bluesman Mem Shannon for the first time ventured out of the Crescent City to record. Setting up shop locally at Ardent Studios, with the Memphis Horns in tow, the change of scenery seemed to agree with him: With its funky rhythm section, jumping piano, and the Horns' trademark punch, "Drowning On My Feet" is one of the best approximations of the classic Memphis soul sound to come along in years. Another locally focused highlight is a jazzy cover of one of B.B. King's signature tunes, "Why I Sing the Blues." Shannon will be back in town this week for a two-night stint at -- where else? -- B.B. King's, performing at a Beale Street Caravan taping on Thursday, September 27th, and giving an encore performance the next night. -- Chris Herrington