June 21, 2021 The 69 Cats – Seven Year Itch (Album Review)
Putting the “psycho” into the ‘billy, The 69 Cats recently delivered their second full-length, Seven Year Itch, on April 16, 2021 thanks to Cleopatra Records.
Free time is hard to come by when you’re a supergroup. Amassed on the neon streets of Hollywood, The 69 Cats—Vocalist Jyrki 69 (The 69 Eyes), Guitarist Danny B. Harvey (Headcat, Rockats), Bassist Kim Nekroman (Nekromantix), and Drummer Rat Scabies (The Damned)—made their official debut with 2014’s Transylvanian Tapes—but that was, aptly, seven long years ago. After finding their velvety soft stride with covers of The Doors’ “People Are Strange” and Bauhaus’ “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” they made it clear that all things Rock, ‘billy, and retro would creep into the mix when these felines sauntered into town.
So it’s really no surprise that Seven Year Itch sticks to the band’s signature blend of all things ‘billy (that being Gothabilly, Rockabilly, Surfabilly, and Psychobilly) throughout its 12 tracks. Choosing wisely, they kick off to the rowdy Goth-n-Roll of “She’s Hot,” whose retro feel is dominated by Jyrki’s deep bass-baritone vocals and the guitar antics of mastermind Harvey. One can almost envision Elvira getting her wiggle on to the track, twirling those tassels round and round to mesmerize us all.
An obvious choice for single/video, “Hollywood’s Bleeding” encapsulates Seven Year Itch well, presenting all of The 69 Cats’ strengths in one track. But here’s the shocker: it’s a Post Malone cover. Still, there’s something found within its notes that perfectly portrays that caliginous essence that floats beneath the façade of Hollywood’s glitz, reminding us that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. As they bring the track to new heights, reimagining it as something much more, they allow Anna Marie-Lewis’ angelic background vocals to provide a perfect compliment to Jyrki’s foreboding darkness.
While it might not be their own, they conquer “Hollywood’s Bleeding” with a finesse that provides a springboard into the belly of their original beast. Here, the 1950’s come back from the dead to live again in the souls of The 69 Cats who deliver material destined for Horror soundtracks, crafted with stellar musicianship, and meant to be a cool bottle of good-times Rock-n-Roll. Always playing to their strengths, they allow Harvey to take the lead often, commanding the songs to weave around his virtuoso performance [“(You’re) The Kind Of Girl I Need,” “Teddy Boy Boogie”].
However they are all seasoned musicians who are at the top of their game, and they work together as a flawless unit devoid of ego, allowing one another ample opportunity to shine. So Nekroman, too, gets a chance in the spotlight, anchoring the dragula ride of “Good Time to Die,” and providing the killer dancing bass lines of “(Let’s Go) Psycho,” a Horror flick theme in-the-making. And though these are all impressive moments, it’s the killer display of their talents in the instrumental “The Hell of the Mountain King”—a witty twist on Edvard Grieg’s 1875 composition “In the Hall of the Mountain King”—which bears some similarities to The Munsters’ TV theme. Either way, let’s just say that Rob Zombie should keep the band in mind for an upcoming soundtrack.
Due to their commitment to their theme, the album maintains a consistent vibe that is apt to appeal to fans of the Misfits, Nekromantix, The 69 Eyes, ghoulish pinups and dusty graves (and putting demon dudes in them). So if the idea of taking a stroll through the graveyard en route to the sock hop speaks to your spooky soul, this band has much to offer. They prove it, too, by getting funky with the Blues (“Graveyard Blues”), dipping their toes into some timeless commentary (“Hey World”), going full-throttle with Larry Wallis (“It Ain’t Enough”), and boogieing down (“Vampire Shuffle,” “I’m Evil”). As the former rearranges its bloodsuckers, it calls to mind the idea of Tim Burton directing 1987’s The Lost Boys—this being a shoe-in for the theme song to that wet dream.
By and by, The 69 Cats make music that is meant to provide a soundtrack for good times. Thus, this is not a record that is meant to challenge you intellectually or to redesign the concept of genre. Nope, it’s only Goth-n-Roll; stripped-down good times meant to make you go psycho. Smooth Rockabilly roots anchor the band’s forays into all things Rock where Harvey’s solos are always on point, Jyrki’s voice is never not captivating, and Nekroman and Scabies know how to keep the rhythm pumping through your blood. Psycho, gothic, rocking retro—whatever you want to call it, Cryptic Rock is surfing on in to give Seven Year Itch 4.5 of 5 stars.