The Screamin’ Rebel Angels‘ frontwoman calls herself Laura Palmer. That takes nerve, but she’s got plenty of that. Her rockabilly band doesn’t date all the way back to the original Twin Peaks, but some of her songs would fit the soundtrack. On the band’s latest vinyl record, Heel Grinder – streaming at Bandcamp – she plays electric and acoustic guitars, upright and electric bass and Farfisa, along with her high-voltage work on the mic. She and the band are playing one of the usual New York summertime haunts for retro sounds. the Riis Park Beach Bazaar at Bay 9 East in the Rockaways on Sept 26 at 5 PM. It’s a hike from the last stop on the A train, but insiders know this is best time of year to hit the beach since all the tourists have gone home.
The album is more diverse than most rockabilly records: Palmer is just as much at home with soul music and blues, and what she calls “rhythm and ooze,” as she is with Sun Studio-era rock. On the opening number, lead guitarist Brian Hack channels Chuck Berry before getting more unhinged with his second solo. A “Night Time, It’s the Right Time” riff propels the second tune, Baby Gets Down, while the album’s title track is a snarling shout-out to the “power of original sin.”
The band follow Hands Off, a careening hillbilly boogie with a couple of more oldschool, chiming, reverb guitar tunes. Palmer reinvents the old soul hit There Is Something On Your Mind as a biting, midtempo blues, giving it a welcome jolt of energy, right down to Aaron Latos’ tumbling drums.
Sweet Petunia is an unexpected dose of Mississippi hill country blues: RL Burnside would approve, Farfisa or no Farfisa. The band stick with blues as they lurch through Where You At. go back to smoldering rockabilly with Snake and then hit a biting garage rock groove with Iris.
There are echoes of the Cramps in The Devil Whispered to Me; the band wind up the record with Racing Death: “Remember your friends,” Palmer cautions at the end. Everything here is done in less than three minutes: a good soundtrack for fried food in paper buckets and dancing on the beach.