With No Strings Attached, synth cowboy Jeff and cowgirl Jess recorded the album in the home of Country and Western for good reason: WESTERN WARE is a full album of classic country songs, some very familiar (Rhinestone Cowboy, Jolene) and others more obscure (although admittedly my C&W knowledge is Beginner Level).
But there aint no twang and wail of traditional country instruments here! WESTERN WARE is 100% electronic, and Hyperbubble have brought their playful, fun synthpop to a sound that’s built-in to any Texan’s heart. “Back when I was a teenbopper, I found a copy of Gil Trythall’s “Switched on Nashville” in a dollar bin at a used record store,” says Jeff. “I took it home and listened to it 6 million times, so I reckon something like this was bound to happen!”
I’ve been expecting it too: it’s a rare crossover (apart from “Switched on Nashville” all I can think of is Schmoof’s “Hayfever“) but if anyone was gonna mix synthpop with Country & Western, it was gonna be Hyperbubble. WESTERN WARE is a wild west of urban cowboys, honkey-tonk angels and truck-driving women. With Moog and Theremin, Hyperbubble synthpopify classic country songs like Dolly Parton’s “Jolene“. It’s a lovely version here, stripped back to blips, bleeps, drumtronics and Jess’s heat-felt singing that puts a new twist on a familiar tune.
Hoyt Axton cover “Boney Fingers” is rewired as a real purdy barn-dance duet, complete with Jess getting boney on the Theremin while you do si do your pardner. I hadn’t heard the original but the lyrics are fantastic; it’s a jolly old song with farm-hand optimism.
“Truck Driving Woman” gives Jess a turn on lead vocals in this jaunty rolling number with C.B. radio chat like Smokey and Bandit. “Breaker one-nine, this here’s the Bubble Boy, was that a mini-skirt driving that truck?!” This is a real fun record, with songs like this it’s perfect for family trips in the car.
“Queen of the Roller Derby” has a Westworld vibe to it (the “Sonic Boom Boy” band, not the TV show) adding bluesy rock n roll riffs to another fun song that’s like something from a synthpop musical. “Rhinestone Cowboy” is one of those songs you think you know, but Hyperbubble (with help from Rikki & Daz) give it a serious synthpop makeover – I never expected to love this PARTICULAR song but it’s like something you’ve never heard. And it works! I think I have finally found my karaoke song at last :p
Giddy up, sequence into “Digital Cowboy” – featuring no less than Scott Simon Esq., off his chair to play lead synths on his previously unreleased title track from the first Our Daughter’s Wedding EP. It’s good, but now we need the extended version!
“The Rubber Room” recites a tale of incarceration, with spooky Theremin as the perfect accompaniment for this late-night campfire story song. Closing the album, “The Electric Horseman” covers the Dave Grusin soundtrack song from the 1979 movie. Complete with electric coconut shell hooves, this instrumental is the longest track on WESTERN WARE and follows Hyperbubble’s tradition of going HYPER hyperbubble on the last track. Hear Jess let rip on the Theremin, she’s the queen riding this synthwave: I love it 🙂
Hyperbubble are fast becoming the masters of conceptual synthpop, what with this delightful album and things like last year’s synthpop coloring book Music to Color By (you may have spotted that on our Top 20 Synthpop Albums of 2016) and Hyperbubble at the High Wire Art Gallery.
Gil Trythall called WESTERN WARE “a hoot and a half!” and hot dang it if he aint right! WESTERN WARE is a hyper fun album with lots of sing-a-long replay value. And for city slickers like me, WESTERN WARE also doubles as the perfect primer to the world of Country and Western music. Yee haw, my pop would be proud!
If the Beach Boys are the sound of California in the 60s, and Kraftwerk the sound of Europe in the 70s/80s then WESTERN WARE is the sound of Texas in the year 2017.
WESTERN WARE is out now, available from:
- Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/0Bs10yub7xQUKK0P0OMXW4
- Amazon: http://amzn.eu/gyv36k4
- Hyperbubble: http://hyperbubble.net/
Thanks to J&J for the CD, aye good time ohm the range!