CD Review: The Hi-Fly Rangers, Another Gear by Buster Fayte
As soon as the Hi-Fly Rangers kick off the first few bars of “Misery Train,” the opening cut on their second record (the long-awaited followup to 2006′s Hot Rod Ride to the Moon) out on Goofin’ Records, you know you’re in for a treat. And from beginning to end, Another Gear keeps the promise of those first few bars. With a mix of cleverly chosen cover tunes and perfectly convincing originals, the Rangers rip through the 15 cuts on this disc with no-holds-barred, no apologies rockabilly.
The band is a three piece in the most classic rockabilly sense with upright bassist Jake holding down the entire bottom end by himself–there’s not a drummer to be heard on this record. KK–who also plays with Maibell and the Misfires–has the rockabilly sound down cold and plays great guitar throughout. With Vesa on vocals and rhythm guitar, the trio is complete.
I love the authentic sound these guys pump out. You get into this record quickly and fully and you certainly don’t miss the drums at all. These three guys make a big noise and it’s rockin’ through and through.
In a really nice note KK wrote when he sent this record to me, he points out that the record is basically a home recording and mostly done live. He mentions that he should pick up my book to learn more about home recording, but I can tell you that he could certainly teach me a thing or two about recording. I’ve been striving in my own studio to create an authentic vintage sound and I haven’t been all that happy with my results. But these guys have it knocked. This record sounds great. Everything is clear and distinct and yet it sounds vintage without sounding “old and out of date” (if that makes any sense).
The songs on this project range from out-and-out rockabilly rockers to classic country and hillbilly boogieish numbers. There’s even a rockabilly cover version of Adele’s “Skyfall” from the Bond flick. Sounds crazy, yeah, but these guys pull it off and it works.
I had lots of fun listening to how these guys put their instrumentation together. Like I said, you don’t miss the drums even one bit. Jake doesn’t play with a strong slap on all of the songs, but when he wants to use it, he uses it really, really well. It’s also fun to listen to the interplay between the bass and the rhythm guitar. Nowhere is this more cool than on their original tune “Please Baby Please” where the bass notes act as the kick drum on ones and threes while the acoustic guitar fills in for the missing snare drum on the twos and fours, with the bass string slaps keeping the rhythm usually provided by the hi-hat cymbals. And it’s like that on song after song.
Vesa–who I think wrote most of the originals here, although the liner notes are not totally clear on that–has a great rockabilly voice. He sounds at turns like Elvis, Johnny Burnette, Eddie Cochran…well, you get the idea. His influences are displayed proudly. But he doesn’t mindlessly ape his heroes. He takes their influences and crafts his own sound. These guys are Finish, and while you can catch Vesa’s accent every once in a while, for the most part he sounds convincingly American. And not just American, but authentically southern American at that. Not that that matters one way or the other because this is great music whether with an American accent or a Finish accent. Great music is just great music any way you look at it.
It always impresses me when I hear bands from around the world who have such a solid and true understanding of this music. I try to imagine myself singing Finish music in Finish and sounding anywhere near authentic. Of course, it couldn’t happen. But these guys have really studied this music and they have an amazing feel for it. Clearly they’ve studied their English too. Add on top of that their ability to write not only the music, but also lyrics that completely make sense to the ears of a native English speaker, is truly impressive.
This is a really fine record from beginning to end. Whether the band is singing one of the rockers or breezing through a classic country swinger, I’ve enjoyed this record thoroughly and I believe you will too if you appreciate authentic rockabilly delivered with honesty and total lack of pretension.
My recommendation: Get this record and start spinning it as soon as you can. You will not be disappointed!
Courtesy of Buster Fayte RockabillyRomp