Chase Hamblin & The Roustabouts, VAUdeVILLE

Chase Hamblin & The Roustabouts, <em>VAUdeVILLE</em>

Step right up, folks; duck your head as you make your way inside the tent, then prepare yourself for Chase Hamblin & The Roustabouts as the roll and ramble through their long-awaited full-length, VAUdeVILLE

First things first: the band’s not kidding about the album title, there. Hamblin and his Roustabout cohorts — a band that includes Corey Power on guitars, Jeremy Nuncio on keys, bassist Rally Terrill, drummer Marcus Hughes, and percussionist Josh Applebee — have done their best to make VAUdeVILLE feel like you’re actually watching a performance on some garishly-lit, dirty stage somewhere down a back alleyway where the “respectable” people don’t ordinarily go.

It’s like a cross between a tent revival meeting, an old-timey stage/saloon show, and yes, a retro-’60s pop concert, complete with Intermission (a crackly-recorded, fun little bit of barroom piano), and it hits you like a pickpocket in a crowd, leaving you wondering what the hell just happened.

As on the band’s previous EP, A Fine Time, there’s a heavy, heavy debt here to The Beatles, particularly on bouncy, cheery (at least outwardly, but we’ll get to that) tracks like “Quiet Life” or the racing “Beautiful Things,” but there’s also a murky, vaguely sinister feel throughout. The aptly-titled “Lonesome” is dark and carnival-sounding, like a circus nightmare come to terrible, terrible (but awesome) life, and rollicking, country-gospel opening track “Can You See The Beast?” has an oddly apocalyptic, religious underpinning to it, warning that The Beast is roaming about the world, preparing for the doom of us all.

Even the more out-and-out “pretty” songs, like the jaunty pop of “I’ve Got A Brain,” have a sharp, sharp edge to them, sarcastically suggesting that maybe actually using your brain might not be a bad thing. “Round & Round,” for its part, is surprisingly political, blasting all sides of the political spectrum for all the hype and insanity while the planet, as the title says, keeps spinning around and around.

In fact, there’re a few points here that seem to be sneakily sociopolitical, making VAUdeVILLE feel almost like an album-length continuation of the themes Hamblin first hit on “A Fine Time,” the title track from the 2009 EP. Hell, maybe even the title of the album is a political statement in itself, pointing to the theatricality and ridiculousness of modern politics? Only Hamblin knows for sure, I suspect.

For my money, though, the best song on here is more on the personal side than the political; “One More Hour” sees Hamblin and The Roustabouts morph into a straight-up Motown outfit, with Hamblin crooning and howling like Otis Redding over a stutter-stepping rhythm and some awesomely-soulful keys and horns. It’s gorgeous and desperate and fragile and, hell, damn near freaking perfect.

“Cry Baby” hits a similar note, with just Hamblin’s voice and a guitar creating a sweet, quiet, delicate little lullaby of a song, and it’s very cool, as well. It’s followed by the midtempo Texas swing of “Leaving Town,” which makes me think of Roger Miller’s “King of the Road,” for some reason, and which sees Hamblin with rougher, less-sleek vocals that bring to mind fellow Beatlemaniacs Supergrass; not a bad thing, in my book.

The album ends by bringing you back into that darkened tent show with “Heard It All Before,” a jagged, Andalusian quasi-flamenco that revisits “Can You See The Beast?”‘s theme of evil and doom. For all it’s swaying beauty, it’s eerie and haunting, like Hamblin wants to leave you with that hint of foreboding as you make your way home from the show. Then the show’s over, and you’re rushed out the door into the night to wonder if you have enough cash left in your pockets to see and hear it all again.

[Chase Hamblin & The Roustabouts are playing their album release 3/29/13 at Fitzgerald’s, along with The Trimms, Bonneville Night Life, Dylan Bryson, & Michael Viteri.]
(self-released; Chase Hamblin & The Roustabouts --; Chase Hamblin & The Roustabouts (Facebook) --; Chase Hamblin & The Roustabouts (ReverbNation) --; Chase Hamblin & The Roustabouts (Bandcamp) --
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Review by . Review posted Friday, March 29th, 2013. Filed under Features, Reviews.

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9 Responses to “Chase Hamblin & The Roustabouts, VAUdeVILLE

  1. SPACE CITY ROCK » Yr. Weekend, Pt. 1: Chase Hamblin & The Roustabouts (Rev’d!) + Murder the Stout + Clouseaux + The March Divide + More on March 29th, 2013 at 9:41 pm

    […] Chase Hamblin & The Roustabouts (album release)/The Trimms/Bonneville Night Life/Dylan Bryson/Michael Viteri @ Fitzgerald’s Alright, so up at Fitz tonight is the big one, in part because it’s the album release for VAUdeVILLE, the brand-new album from Chase Hamblin & The Roustabouts, which is Chase himself, Corey Power of Ragged Hearts, Jeremy Nuncio of the Kelly Doyle Band, & SugarHill engineer Josh Applebee, among others. The album’s very good, in a surprisingly dark way, despite Hamblin’s love for all things poppy being firmly on his sleeve. Check out the review of the album over here. […]

  2. Chase Hamblin on March 31st, 2013 at 10:58 pm

    Thanks for listening so closely and thank you for the great review! We had a ball at the release!
    Much love,

  3. Catherine on March 31st, 2013 at 10:59 pm

    What an insightful and beautifully written review! And, an amazing album.

  4. Jeremy Hart on April 2nd, 2013 at 10:32 pm

    Thanks! Glad to hear the release party went well… :)

  5. Lindy on April 11th, 2013 at 10:47 pm

    Sounds like you definitely understand exactly what Chase is trying to convey through his lyrics and melodies. And I, for one, was thrilled to see that this time this cd comes with those wonderfully witty words included inside! I’m not saying I can sing along, but I WANT to!! Well done critique Jeremy — well done album, Chase!

  6. Chase Hamblin & The Roustabouts / VAUdeVILLE | 1001 RECORDS on May 8th, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    […] Más Info / More Info […]

  7. SPACE CITY ROCK » Yr. Weekend, Pt. 2: Keep Calm//Fight Cancer (II) + Project Grimm + Funeral Horse + My Education + The Witherees + Chase Hamblin + More on September 7th, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    […] especially now; their more straightforward ’60s-revival stuff was good, but this year’s VAUdeVILLE is absolutely stellar (not to mention true to its […]

  8. “VAUdeVille” Review by Space City Rock | on March 10th, 2014 at 2:23 am
  9. SPACE CITY ROCK » Yr. Week, Pt. 1: LVL UP + Two Knights + football, etc. + Jay Farrar + Chase Hamblin + BRONCHO + Low Litas + More on October 29th, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    […] Go find out, and be sure you get there in time to see the stellar Chase Hamblin open — he’s a truly great songwriter and musician in his own right, albeit in a fairly different direction. He’s a lot less roots-rock and more of a mishmash of ’60s pop and old-timey barroom music, at least on last year’s excellent VAUdeVILLE. […]

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