Killjoy records – Kill 024 
The Head and the Axe – Survival
A broken record player coupled with a busy schedule delayed the review of a batch of vinyl records I received from Killjoy records, including this single from the Retarded rats. And just when I finally can review it, I hear the news that they decided to take a break . Rats !
Killjoys is known for its colored vinyl releases and cassettes. This single makes no exception to the good taste of the label. It comes in a beautiful gatefold sleeve, nicely designed and illustrated with… a flexi disc inside. Yes you read well, a flexi disc.
For releasing such beautiful objects, Flatty and Anna Killjoy deserve all our respect, admiration and support (in other words : buy the discs !) But they deserve all of that and more for another simple and obvious reason : their music.
A side could be described as psychedelic-psychobilly, not that surprising for a song about voices in the head that lead to a hatchet in a skull.
B side is more rocking with a slight western twang. It also features pretty good lyrics too. Like everyone I like songs about vampires, ghouls and zombies but I was pleased to find more personnal and almost reflective lyrics that find a strange echo with the news of the band calling it quit.
Limited to 500 copies.
The Retarded Rats – Screams from the 10th Planet
Killjoy Records KILL-017
The Engine Starts – No time to die – Neo-psychobilly – You Lost my brain – Headshot – Searching – Fingertip in the Sky – Inquisition – the key – Coulrophobia – Nananananananananananana – Screams fromt he 10th planet
I sometimes fear that I don’t have the legitimacy to review Psychobilly albums. After all, I stopped following the evolution of the genre since the mid 90’s, when bands began to incorporate too much elements of metal, hardcore or were just playing punk with a slap bass. But the Retarded Rats LP came as a nice surprise. I first thought that the main reason was due to the sound that brought back my teenage year. But it was much more than that. And simplier: the Retarded Rats are a pretty good band.
With the feet firmly rooted in the classic Psychobilly tradition of the mid 80’s/late 90’s, this trio (Gordon melmac on drums, Flatty Killjoy on guitar and organ and Anna Killjoy on doublebass and lead vocals) from Leipzig, Germany, takes the genre one step further without denaturing it. Without a doubt the light guitar, the slap bass (a real slap bass with warm notes and a wood sound, not that horrendous metallic clicking sound one too often hears) and even the voice of Anna, the female lead singer (I couldn’t help but think about Something Shocking or Dypsomaniaxe) belong to the what is usually described as old school psychobilly but the melodies, the songs (all originals) and the arrangements are 100% their own.
By no means are the Retarded Rats a nostalgic band playing a music of the past. They have too many good ideas for that. The sound has a lot to do with that too, it’s raw – recorded live on 8 track reel to reel – but not dirty (well, okay a bit dirty, but just what it needs, see what I mean)
In the end the best way I can find to describe this excellent combo is the title of one of the best songs of the album: neo-psychobilly.
Like Rockabilly, Psychobilly saw a lot of 80’s bands reforming in the recent years to play weekenders, that’s a good thing (who wouldn’t like to see legends?) but I firmly believe that the future of Psychobilly lays in bands like the Retarded Rats who bring new blood and ideas but remain faithful to the genre.
Fred “Virgil” Turgis