Pope Paul & the Illegals – Start Gettin’ Serious

Hey y’all, want to read about some Cowpunk from SoCal? Read on.

I’m spinning “Start Gettin’ Serious”, the new album from Santa Ana eclectic combo, Pope Paul & the Illegals. The album provides 11 tracks of a variety of Americana; Country, Cow Punk, Swing Revival, Western Swing, Rockabilly, Gospel sounds, sure, why not? There’s even a bit of Hank III / Assjack sounding metal on the album.

Per the band, regarding the new release “It features a slew of excellent guest musicians, including members of Squirrel Nut Zippers (Jimbo Mathus, Hank West) and the Reverend Horton Heat (Matt Jordan).” So it’s got some pedigree straight out the gate. I’m not sure who is playing what, but the music is tight, and the guitars rip. Track seven, Demented Swing certainly has a pronounced Squirrel Nut Zippers sound.

I suspect the above gets to the gist of what the band is aiming for. What you’re looking for, I suppose though, is the answer to the question, “Is this a good album?” The answer, friends, is yes. It is a good album. I think the caveat is, as always, if you are in anyway interested in the sounds mentioned above, than you oughta give Pope Paul & the Illegals a whirl. Go to their Facebook page and listen to some tracks. Hear it with your own ears, and go out and support local music!

Personal favorite is the extremently guitar-driven, rippin’ Rockabilly end track, Rip It Off.

Cheers!
Jerry Actually

Tracks:
1. Up in the Clouds
2. Altered State
3. Let’ Ragnarok
4. Start Gettin’ Serious
5. Heartsick on the Road
6. It Wasn’t Enough
7. Demented Swing
8. Sugar Spots
9. Off My Chest
10. Santa Ana Flu
11. Rip It Off

Band Members:
Pope Paul – Guitar/Vocals
John the Bassist – Upright Bass
Fat Sal – Drums

Bio:
Pope Paul & The Illegals started up in 2014 in their hometown of Santa Ana, CA. Their style combines most elements of Americana music including rockabilly, psychobilly, punk, swing, country, honky-tonk, blues, surf rock, and rock n roll. They bring a fun, high-energy show guaranteed to get crowds dancing, drinking, and having a great time.

Touring frequently, Pope Paul & The Illegals have entertained crowds in 34 different states with a mix of their original material and classic cover tunes. They have opened up for high-profile Americana acts such as Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys, Supersuckers, Shooter Jennings, The Blasters, The Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, Slim Jim Phantom (of the Stray Cats), Hillbilly Casino, The Bellfuries, Gamblers Mark, The Delta Bombers, Deke Dickerson, and Wanda Jackson. They have performed at several festivals throughout the USA including the So-Cal Hoedown (Santa Ana, CA), the Rockabilly Extravaganza (Riverside, CA), the Nashville Boogie (Nashville, TN), the Great American Rockabilly Riot (El Paso, TX), Viva East (Boxborough, MA), and the ApalachOktoberfest (Apalachicola, FL) which they headlined.

They have released three full-length albums, “White Smoke Rises” (recorded at Orange Blossom Studios, Placentia, CA) and “Dial Back Boogie” (recorded at Dial Back Sound, Water Valley, MS). Their 3rd release, “Start Gettin’ Serious” (Dial Back Sound) is now available as a CD and can be bought from the Illegals themselves or bought/streamed online through CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Pandora, and Spotify. It features a slew of excellent guest musicians, including members of Squirrel Nut Zippers (Jimbo Mathus, Hank West) and the Reverend Horton Heat (Matt Jordan).

Pope Paul & The Illegals gig frequently and will happily play your bar, lounge, saloon, brewery, festival, private party, wedding, private jet, historical ruins, barn dance, local prison, swanky mansion, religious ceremony, satanic ritual, political event, anniversary, habadashery, seedy alley, Mexican restaurant, Waffle House and more! Just message us here on our Facebook page and we will get back to you ASAP.

Americana-Na

Americana-Na
© 2015

Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

americana-naWelcome to the debut release by Wichita, KS based folk/rock/garage/americana/tejano/cowpunk act, Americana-Na. The self-titled debut brings about an intriguing blend of musical genres. The songs are uptempo and of short duration in the vein of punk rock, but with less vitriol and intensity that is often associated with the aforementioned genre. The prior has been replaced with tongue-in-cheek (I assume) storytelling about American flag t-shirts ala the opener, “American” and what seems to be the Spanglish, or maybe it’s Gringlish stylings of “Eclipse”. Musically, the songs are simple chord driven 4/4 numbers with a “kick/snare, kick/snare, kick/snare, fill” cowboy/country rhythm.

The overall vibe comes across as slightly less than serious. This isn’t a bad thing mind you, so much as something to note. Vocally, the tunes sound a bit tortured, as though someone was trying to wring a note out of a old worn boot. I think that, in significant part, helps with the less-than-serious overtone. The songs are raw and rough around the edges. I think the mutli-colored duct tape cover provides a nice visual compliment to the tracks being haphazardly held together, perhaps by the very mystical properties of duct tape itself.

I’d be hard pressed to list all of the influences that are melded into the sound, but there’s a little band that I’m reminded of continually as I listen to this: Awesome and the Ass-kickers. … If you haven’t heard them, look them up.

At the end of it, the debut release by Americana-Na is 8 short, fun tracks and one track that is about double the length of the others. … that’s like getting ten tracks I’d say. Good deal!

If you’re in the Midwest and/or upper-ish Midwest, word on the street is the the boys are doing a mini-tour coming up soon. Have some fun. Check them out.

Cheers,
Jerry Actually