Detonics – Raise Your Bet
Right out of the gate, the Detonics make it clear that they are going to jump, swing, and honor the West Coast blues style that inspired the five piece band from the Netherlands. Leading off their second release, “Swing King” is a slice of retro cool that could have been borrowed from a Stray Cats record. Instead, it is one of eleven originals written by collaborations between various band members. Guitarist Jeremy Aussems composed the electrifying music while drummer Mathijs Roks and lead singer Kars van Nus wrote the lyrics celebrating a master of the dance floor. The pace accelerates on “Butter Side Up,” as Raimond de Nijs’s hands flow across the piano keyboard, leading to an Aussems’ solo that elevates the proceedings to a higher plane.
“My Dad Taught Me To Rock” adds some New Orleans R&B influence as van Nus pays homage to his father for installing a love of music in his son, particularly the importance of swing. New Orleans is the final destination for a man looking to be reunited with the woman he loves on “Route 101,” with Aussems laying down twangy guitar licks that create a “Ghost Riders In The Sky” vibe. The jump & jive reappear on “The Rat,” with a nimble vocal turn from van Nus, who also blows a brief harmonica solo before turning Aussems loose for another fiery guitar excursion. Clocking in just over the two minute mark, “She Is In Command” finds de Nijs switching to the Hammond organ while Roks and Rene Leijtens on upright bass set up a convincing rumba rhythm, as van Nus can’t quite bring himself to stand up to a woman who is the boss at all times.
The band breaks it down to just de Nijs playing some sprightly piano lines in support of a strong vocal from van Nus on “Can’t Get Enough”. Once the rest of the band joins in, the track is off to the races with some full-tone harp blowing from the singer. “Mr. Barber” is pure rockabilly until van Nus turns it around with more hard-edged tones from his harp. There are two performances that illustrate that the band is equally effective at slowing tempos. “Out Of Sight” brings out the gritty side of van Nus’s voice, softened by several sections where the band briefly elevates the mood. The longest cut, “Bullet Through My Heart,” is a dark, minor key highlight. Normally, these types of songs end up being a showcase moment for the guitar player. In this case, de Nijs on electric piano delivers a striking solo passage that favors real feelings instead of a furious display of instrumental prowess. The closing tune, “I Still Remember,” is a weaker track that does not mesh well with the singer’s voice.
For the most part, the Detonics play feel-good music that would certainly inspire the the ranks of dancers around the world. While a bit light on the lyrical content, they prove to be well-versed on the various musical styles that are the bedrock of their sound. And as the lead singer, van Nus brings it all together with seasoned vocals that fit the textures of the material. The combination makes this a blues record worth a listen.