One of the things that is easy to notice in a lot of the punk rock subgenres, whether it’s Emo, Ska, Post-hardcore, Screamo or whatever, is that after awhile all the bands in the middle start to sound the same. Psycho-Billy, or Horror-Billy as it’s sometimes called, is not exempt from this.
The sound has come a long way from its beginnings (as Rockabilly in the 50’s) but over the last decade or so it seems to have stalled. If you search the ‘net or iTunes for Psycho-Billy bands you’ll find hundreds of them, but what you won’t find is a lot of diversity. Sure, there are some unique groups out there: Tiger Army, The Rosedales and the Horrorpops are just a few. But the vast majority of Psycho-Billy bands are near impossible to tell apart. The vocalists are often interchangeable, the lyrics cover the same tired subjects and the music is nothing you haven’t heard before. It often seems like the genre has a few formulas that they stick to and no one wants to expand beyond that comfort zone.
Still, I like the music and every time I hear about a new Psycho-Billy band I try to check them out, hoping to find (A) something new and unique or at least (B) a better version of what’s already out there. ‘Kitty In A Casket‘ is band that does a little bit of both. They don’t reinvent the wheel or anything like that: easy vocal comparisons can be drawn to other female-fronted groups such as The Creepshow and The Spookshow but what sets them apart are the songs they produce. Their lyrics are not exclusively about horror movie themes, and Kitty In A Casket show a much broader range of musical influence than most bands of their kind. Sure, the overall sound on this disc is Psycho-Billy but it doesn’t end there. The songs “Never Wanted” and “Run, Run” have a rock-n-roll sound to them. “Trash Talkers” and the title track, “Back To Thrill,” lean towards punk rock with a little bit of a hair metal thrown in the mix and “Prom Song” starts out sounding similar to “Is She Really Going Out With Him” by Joe Jackson or “Jessie’s Girl” by Rick Springfield and continues that mid-eighties pop rock vibe for the rest of the song. The mixing of genres makes this band stand out and adds some nice depth to the overall sound.
Here are some of my personal favorites on the disc:
The previously mentioned “Never Wanted”, a song with a great pounding bass line, and vocalist Kitty manages to sound both sweet and angry at the same time;
-“Shake Your Bones”, a fast paced Psycho-Billy duet about touring. The two singers, Kitty and Rene D la Muerte (from the band The Brains) sound great together and the stand-up bass is right up front on this one.
-“Headshot” is another really cool one. This song has more of a rock-n-roll sound and has a great bouncy chorus.
I also wanted to mention the song “Blutsauger,” as it’s one of the more interesting tracks on here. The song has a very spooky feel to it, especially the beginning. The song is sung in German, and there are times on this song that Kitty’s voice reminds me of Siouxsie Sioux (from Siouxsie and the Banshees).
Overall I was pretty impressed by Kitty In A Casket. I had never heard of them before doing this review but when I searched for more info on the band I learned that they have another CD and an EP that are also available. I plan on picking them both up soon. This review will show up as 3 stars but 3.5 is how I actually would rate it. Recommended to all fans of the Psycho-Billy genre, especially those who like the female fronted bands or want something that is just a little outside of the norm.