Hillsborough's Straight 8s play straight up rockabilly--no gimmicks, no effects. Well, maybe a little reverb on the vocals, but other than that, it's stripped down to the basics--jangly guitar, doghouse bass, kick drum, a couple of cymbals and a rattly snare that sounded even better when the bottom fell out of it during a recent gig at The Pour House opening for the Legendary Shack Shakers.
The trio--guitarist Robert Striegler, bassist Pat McGraw and drummer Bernie Fox--play classic '50s rockabilly. But they're not a cover band. Although they do throw in an impressive version of Duane Eddy's "Rebel Rouser" in their live show, on their debut Casualties of Cool for the Ohio-based rockabilly label Rock N Roll Purgatory, all but one of the 14 cuts are originals.
It's a tight, efficient sound. Nobody shows off. There are no extended solos. Everybody says what they need to say simply and gets out quickly. Striegler covers both rhythm and lead duties effortlessly, and the rhythm section punctuates the proceedings with a retro backslap that would have even held up Gene Vincent on his most wobbly nights.
The songs, though simple, don't sound trite, staying true to the adolescent principles--girls, cars and girls--that have always been the backbone of rockabilly. These boys are onto something. It's obviously a labor of love, not an effort to catch hold of a gimmick. It sounds authentic, raw and exciting. The only thing that could be better is seeing "em doing it live.