Just as rockabilly back in the ’50s was largely a regional phenomenon, many of the best bands today remain local heroes. Witness Austin’s Bellfuries, with guitar man Mike Molnar.
The band’s debut was the stellar ’01 album Just Plain Lonesome, featuring “Your Love (All That I’m Missing)” – a song that should have been a hit circa 1956, though justice was served when J.D. McPherson covered it on his debut. The Bellfuries followed that with ’08’s pop-infused Palmyra, but it’s been a long seven years since.
The wait’s been worthwhile. This new album is back to fine rockabilly form.
Frontman and songwriter Joey Simeone crafts tunes with a perfect vintage vibe. He has a knack for writing hooks and catchy lyrics while channeling a ’50s sensibility that’s not just aping the past. Bassist Jeff Seaver and drummer Chris Sensat lay down a rock-solid backline.
Throughout, Molnar stuns. His trebly tone drives each song with assured Travis picking and proto rock-and-roll licks.
“Loving Arms” kicks things off with jangly guitar before launching into a fingersnapping rockabilly romp accented by Molnar’s incisive fills and amped-up solo. “Bad Seed Sown” is ’50s witchery with shimmering chordal stabs and a blues-inflected solo.
“Why Do You Haunt Me” is a sweet-sounding teen opera with an oh-so-catchy refrain. “Beaumont Blues” is a bopping rocker while “Baltimore” rides a New Orleans-style rhythm.
The album was recorded by ace Jimmy Sutton at Chicago’s Hi-Style, and the sound is a beautiful mix of old tones and modern clarity.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s November ’15 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.