Originally published on: http://www.freepresshouston.com/music/chase-hamblin-the-roustabouts-album-release-tonight/
Chase Hamblin & The Roustabouts Album Release Tonight
Chase Hamblin’s named his new album, VAUdeVILLE, in tribute to a uniquely American form of entertainment. As Hamblin relates in the liner notes, his grandfather was a songwriter in the heyday of vaudeville, the popular early 20th century “variety show” that combined musical performances with comedy, dancing, burlesque and more. Hamblin and his band, The Roustabouts, do well to channel vaudeville’s theatricality and eager-to-please energy, offering up twelve bouncy songs steeped in classic pop songwriting.
Hamblin crafts well-proportioned, energetic tunes, veering from Brill Building jingles to bluesy vamps to Beatles-esque pomp, all united by his crisp, elfin vocal style (at times his singing recalls a more theatrical incarnation of of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes, if you can believe such a thing exists). Songs like “I’ve Got a Brain” and the jaunty “Round and Round” sound like less-psychedelic takes on the warped fairy tales of Syd Barrett, while opener “Can You See the Beast” is a go-for-broke music hall barnburner. The Roustabouts (who count Robert Ellis and Geoffrey Muller among their ranks) attack the songs with a professionalism that verges on slick. Music-hall piano and strutting horn sections buoy the arrangements, and the recording is crisp, lively and clear. This is no lo-fi bedroom pop project; these songs are ready for primetime.
VAUdeVILLE’s lyrics can be deceptively dark, in contrast with Hamblin’s sunny vocals (often multitracked in impeccably-arranged rainbows of harmonies). The lyrics of “Round and Round” might make for a bitter pill in the hands of, say, a hardcore band, but the energy and verve with which they’re presented takes the edge off lines like “Gasoline ignites a war / Burning hatred at the core / Three religions dying for a dinosaur.” This is a crazy, messed-up world, Hamblin tells us, but let’s have some fun here while we can.
Chase Hamblin and the Roustabouts celebrate VAUdeVILLE’s release tonight at Fitzgerald’s. The event promises to be less your regular rock and roll show and more, well, an event – alongside openers The Trimms and Bonneville Night Life, the flyer promises burlesque performances, tarot readings and magic. Vaudeville, indeed.