Schoolboy crushes: Olivia Newton-John when she had that makeover in Grease, and Carolyn Jones as Morticia Addams in The Addams Family. Lily Munster ran a close third. Whereas memories of Newton-John faded, Morticia Addams is still rattling around in my head five decades later. Give me the French speaking tease of Morticia any day over a thousand Pamela Andersons running across a beach in a red swimsuit. It’s fair to say then that New Years Day vocalist Ash Costello stopped me in my tracks when news of The Haxans first broke. The goth-pop duo featuring Costello and Rob Zombie bassist Matt Montgomery (Piggy D), has brought all the creepy kookiness of cartoonist Charles Addams’ creations to life, thrown in a little groove, and given birth to The Haxans. Montgomery even has a little ‘tash similar to the one Gomez Addams uses to great effect. The whole imagery of the duo is fantastic. Thankfully, the music on offer doesn’t disappoint either.
‘Party Monsters’ is chock-full of eerie, up-tempo, party anthems, mainly guitar driven, but with it’s fair share of spooky keyboards, and some neat samples in the background… the kind of music that would be perfect for the waiting room in Beetlejuice! (“I gotta do a photoshoot for GQ in an hour and a half”). Costello sounds like she is having an absolute blast. The keyword seems to be ‘fun’. Montgomery is the mad scientist that put it all together, as well as handling both guitar and vocal duties. The guitars on tracks like ‘Lights Out’, and the totally gonzo ‘Party Time’, are turned up high in the mix, but don’t drown out the vocals, which is sensible, as some of the hooks on the album are monster sized. ‘Young Blood’ has a cracking hand-clapping vibe that is catchier than a STD in an Edinburgh public toilet! The gang vocals are immense, and if ever Ginger Wildheart needs another band for his Hootenanny, he should give these guys a call. ‘Dirty Magic’ and ‘Black Cat Bone’ both have a sleazy, primal groove to them that stirs the juices with their pounding drums and fuzzy guitars. The use of creepy keyboards and samples is very effective, especially on the intro to ‘Chains’, which continues with a fat acoustic guitar sound and a lovely dose of fuzz. ‘I Think Of Demons’ should have pop gurus everywhere wondering why they never wrote it. Think Ke$ha or Gwen Stefani, but with a chainsaw at their back. ‘Professional Weirdo’ is simply insane! Beginning with a slight ‘Sexual Healing’ vibe, it takes a sharp turn when a wall of noise comes in. The guitars are big and beefy, the keyboards full on, and the vocals show the full range of Costello. The high quality of the songs continues as the album heads to its climax, ‘Slick Black Coffin’ is an 80’s pop-tinged banger that crawls into the show-stopping ‘Boo’. Slow building, with a dark, brooding thread that needs pulling, it begs to be played loud! How to end the album? How about a cover of The Misfits’ ‘Vampira’? Slowed down, acoustic, vocals to die for… perfection. In my opinion, easily one of the top ten albums of the year. We just need some live shows from The Haxans now!
Available now. More information on the official The Haxans website.
Review: Dave Stott