Rockabilly band Jimmy and the Mustangs have released their new album Another Round and it is full of retro flavor, high energy tunes, and ballads that will make listeners swoon.
Much of the album is made up of fast tempo songs, but the one that holds its ground the best is “I Won’t Cry For You.” The tune hangs on to a country vibe that suits it well, but also has a blast of horns that make the instrumentation on a whole a surprise and worth listening every second to. Lead singer Jimmy Haddox carries with him an Elvis Presley swagger as he sings “you’ll come running back someday but baby I won’t wait.” The track also sounds like something the longtime powerpop band The Spongetones could have written and performed on their last album. It’s catchy and has simple lyrics, but with its jazzed up musical background it makes it one of the standout highlights of the album.
“Hotel San Jose” has a blues feel to it that helps separate it from all the other tracks on the LP. It sails along effortlessly, and here Haddox sounds completely at ease, this type of jazzy soul completely in his wheelhouse. On other tracks Haddox can come off as if he is trying too hard, but there is a genuine feeling to this particular tune that few other songs on the album have. This is a song that really comes alive with both the sultry instrumentation and the vocals working together to produce a near perfect product. When Haddox sings “please take my hand/let’s run away to the secret place we fell in love” listeners will be compelled to follow him.
Jimmy and the Mustangs shine the brightest are on their retro styled ballads that will have couples swaying on the dance floor and seeing hearts in their eyes. “Love is Just Pretend” is just plain pretty to listen to and its clean and precise lyrics make one think of the sweet and innocent songs of the 1950s. Again, there is a very natural feeling here, Haddox letting his vocals do the talking without having to push too hard or pretend to be anything other than himself. Clearly this was styled after the doo wop ballads of the 1950s but it doesn’t come off as derivative because it feels so authentic. When one finds a song that honestly could be mistaken for a tune from a different time, one needs to hold on tight to it, because in this modern world of music, it becomes increasingly hard to find songs that are this sincere.
On Another Round retro enthusiasts will be happy to find that “Love is Just Pretend” is not just a happy fluke, and that there is another song that is just as authentic and in fact just edges out that previous ballad for the number one spot on the entire LP. “Her Love is Gone,” is hazy and moody in its instrumentation and vocals, Haddox channeling Gene Pitney in “Town Without Pity,” with his smoky and commanding delivery. “I’m crying/so lonely/her heart I thought I’d won,” Haddox sings solemnly, also evoking some Chris Isaak, and it is a thing of beauty. There’s also an air of mystery in the instrumentation and the slick delivery from Haddox as he opens his soul to his listeners which makes the track that more personal. If there is one tune from this album that you want to play on repeat this is it.
But while songs like “Love is Just Pretend” and “Her Love is Gone” are some of the best songs this reviewer has heard in 2016, much of Another Round feels like it is trying too hard to fit into the rockabilly/throwback genre, and comes off as clumsy. “Cherry Bomb” starts off with a promising Jerry Lee Lewis like piano riff, but its lyrics are too simple and repetitive and lower the tune to a generic sound. Haddox still manages to pull off the track with his energetic vocals, but there is nothing special to be found here. “Ready Set Go” has a lot of potential but it falls short. It has a line dance vibe that listeners have probably heard a hundred times in their life. Jimmy and the Mustangs bring nothing new to the genre, here, and would have been better off being left out of the album all together. “Rock My World” just comes off as slightly creepy as Haddox sings “only got one thing on my mind/making love to you all the time.” Knowing that Jimmy and the Mustangs are capable of so much greatness makes less than great tracks like this a huge disappointment.
Still, like most albums, there are some really great songs to be found here, one just has to sift through the sometimes sloppy tunes to find them.