by Jimbo Starr
"Halcyon Times" represents the first album of all-new material from Jason & The Scorchers since 1996 and it's been well worth the long wait! The line-up here features Jason Ringenberg and Warner E. Hodges from the original 1981 line-up, bassist Al Collins and Swedish drummer Pontus Snibb (Dan Baird helps out on rhythm guitar).
A brief bit of history first - the band originally came together in 1981 and their first 45 is considered to be the first true cow-punk / alt-country record. Their 1983 EP "Fervor" and 1985's classic "Lost And Found" were certainly groundbreaking records - their early sound mixed The Clash, Hank Williams, Bob Dylan and Jerry Lee Lewis!
"Halcyon Times" kicks off with the rockabilly blast `Moonshine Guy' which is followed by a poignant and affecting tale of mining, `Beat On The Mountain'. The rip-snorting `Mona Lee' is an insanely catchy and fiery number that is one of the album's standouts, and the pace doesn't let up with the chuggling `Fear Not Gear Not'.
Another strong cut is `Mother Of Greed' which transports the listener from northern Wales in 1910 to Birmingham, Alabama in 2009. `Gettin' Nowhere Fast' is a high octane slab of rollicking country-punk, `Land Of The Free' contains some mighty fine 12-string guitar, and another killer track comes in the form of `Golden Days'.
`Deep Holy Water' is a gutsy number, while there's a dark and brooding undercurrent to `Twang Town Blues'. The epic `Days Of Wine And Roses' is an instant classic, and the thunderous `Better Than This' is another monster, complete with catchy as hell chorus.
The stripped-down country of `When Did It Get So Easy (To Lie To Me)' could pass as a long-lost Hank Williams song, and the MC5-esque blistering riff-heavy nugget `We've Got It Goin' On' closes the album in style.
Overall, this great band are back with a truly (no pun intended!) scorching album. If you're an existing fan then you'll love it - if you're yet to discover them, then this is the perfect place to start!