Can we all throw a hi-five up at the ceiling for Canadian Psychobilly for a moment? For a genre that began (perhaps should have stayed) and primarily operates in the U.K., Canada’s got a half dozen really high quality acts within its borders: Montreal’s The Brains, Edmonton’s Raygun Cowboys, Victoria’s Switchblade Valentine and Vancouver’s legendary Dead Cats are all Psychobilly rockabilly’s of the highest order. But the genre’s best Canadian torch bearers are undoubtedly Toronto’s The Creepshow.
Strutting since 2005, The Creepshow is unfortunately most famous today for being the former band of Walk Off The Earth’s Sarah Blackwood. She left the band a couple years ago when her new band’s viral video turned into a real life career on the pop charts and she found herself with little time left for her former punk rock tribe. But fear not! For what better way to replace a highly talented lead singer, than to replace her with another highly talented lead singer. And one who, conveniently, sounds exactly like the last one.
Yes, new singer Kenda Legaspi, the band’s third in its lifetime, is not only gorgeous and talented, she’s a dead vocal ringer for Sarah Blackwood. That makes the transition for the fans pretty easy to swallow.
‘Life After Death,’ out this week on Stomp Records, is the band’s first album since 2010’s ‘They All Fall Down’ has the same sound as all of their previous albums, if you were worried the singer change would affect the flavor in any way. The only slight songwriting change comes in the way of the songs ‘Born To Lose’ and ‘Last Call’ which have a more punk n’ roll/rockabilly sound than anything they’ve done before. ‘Last Call’ in particular helping to fill the punk rock R&B void left by the tragic passing of The Kings of Nuthin’s Torr Skoog. Which, as it turns out, was a good call as, as far as I’m concerned, they’re the best songs on the record.
The sound on ‘Life After Death’ is certainly their most polished to date. Things are tighter in regards to the band as a whole, which does differentiate it somewhat from the comparatively grittier feel of their previous records, but isn’t necessarily a criticism, unless you go for that lower budget sound. Besides, at the end of the day, you could still realistically take any one of these songs and throw them on any of their older records and not think twice about the placement.
Lyrically the album is also in perfect correlation with the rest of Creepshow’s discography. The horror punk content and themes that much of Psychobilly has embraced throughout its lifetime are here in full force: vengeance, sin, highways to hell, hanging with the devil and forms of abandonment peppers the album for a fairly depressing experience. Luckily the supremely catchy aesthetic and appeal of the music itself offsets this and you’ll find yourself skipping to work with the refrain ‘we’ll see you in hell’ ringing in your ears regardless.
‘Life After Death’ is a fantastic record, one of the band’s best releases thus far. It should completely dispel any questions about whether the absence of Blackwood would affect the quality or stamina of Canada’s best Psychobilly’s, like a nail in the lid of a coffin.