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The Hillbilly Moon Explosion - With Monsters And Gods album review

The Hillbilly Moon Explosion's new album is dirty as a southern bar, clean as a Swiss mountain stream

Formed when gravel-voiced slap-bassist Oliver Baroni’s Hillbilly Headhunters merged with singer-songwriter Emanuela Hutter, Zurich’s Hillbilly Moon Explosion have been perfecting their rich blend of barroom boogie, rockabilly canters, howls and sexy exotica over several albums since 2002’s Introducing… debut.

Maybe their country’s clean mountain air explains the sometimes pristine flavour of the album’s fine-tuned retro recreations, divided between Hutter’s after-hours smoke-curlers (Temptation, Midnight Blues) and Baroni’s Johnny Burnette-motoring rockabilly (Depression, Heartbreak Boogie).

These are ably bolstered by the featherlight rhythms of drummer Luke ‘The Puke’ Weyermann and guitarist Duncan James, whose shimmering twang enlivens throughout, particularly on the compelling Cramps-like blues train of Black Ghost and the contagious shuffle of the title track.

The album also features Hutter’s audacious but triumphant version of Blondie’s Call Me, which homes in on its Deep Purple-derived riff, before she takes Debbie’s theme for 1980’s American Gigolo into a Mississippi brothel, with the potential for a return stint as a hit. Still with the covers, Baroni joins Hutter for a ska-charged romp through Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra’s Jackson. They were right to turn down that Eurovision invitation.

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