Rochelle & The Sidewinders – 3rd Time’s A Charm
Self-Release – 2022
16 tracks; 72 minutes
This is the third album from Rochelle & The Sidewinders, a five piece based in Austin, Texas. All the songs on this very generous helping of music are original, written by singer Rochelle Creone and guitarist Tom Coplen, with assistance from Todd Frenzel on one tune. The other members of the band are drummer/percussionist Danny Reyes, bassist Adam Spafford and multi-instrumentalist Jim Trimmier who plays sax, harp and keys; Todd plays keys on the track he co-wrote, studio engineer Jason Frankhouser plays guitar on one cut and George Storey plays bass on one track and adds B/V’s across the album. Tom Coplen designed the cover, did the artwork and also co-produced the album with George Storey.
The music mixes blues, rock and roll and dashes of other styles, but it is Rochelle’s vocals that stand out, clear and strong without resorting to excess. “Still Livin’ The Blues” has strong guitar and sax providing a solid base for Rochelle to deliver a song about paying your dues, the rolling rhythm getting the toes tapping, a great start to the album, quickly followed by “My Baby Came Back” which rocks along well with a great sax solo. “Tit For Tat” adds a touch of funk with bubbling bass work before the extended ballad “I’ll Take You To The Moon” which starts with smooth sax, jazzy chords, double bass and brushed drums, providing an opportunity to showcase Rochelle’s vocal range. Rochelle urges us all to “Get Off (The Couch)” on a rather repetitive, funk-based tune, salvaged by a fine middle section courtesy of the sax. On the other hand “Make It Snappy” is a winner with the initial rhythm riff overlaid by electric guitar and booming bass as the rest of the band enters the fray; pretty well impossible to keep still to this one as Rochelle insists that we need to “pick up the pace”. Todd adds some rocking piano to the middle section as Jim solos on sax.
“No Time” is full-blown rock, heavy guitar riff and rousing chorus while the title track is a sharp contrast with subtle sax and a late night feel, Rochelle sounding romantic about her relationship: “the third time’s a charm, we’ve been down this road before, it’s so familiar, yet still we’re up for more”. The instrumental “Showdown At The Hoedown” opens with chickens clucking and then bounces along in country hoedown style, sax and plucked guitar exchanging notes against enthusiastic hand claps! “Clown Cone” is more of a pop tune with a jungle beat and cool vocals. We are quite a long way from the blues on these four cuts but the band gets into more of an R&B feel on the short but attractive “Flip Side”.
The moody “See Things Clear” is a great feature for Rochelle’s vocals as Tom picks out the main theme on acoustic guitar and sax is again the featured instrument before “You Like It Like That”, a fast-paced tune in finger-snapping jazz style. “Snake Eyes” rocks things up again with Rochelle spurred on by the guitar riff while “Sad Song” does what the title suggests, as Rochelle pours out her heart about lost love on a ballad that winds up the emotions musically as a fine sax solo is followed by some great dueling guitars on the coda. It is not clear why “Hangman’s Tree” is labelled a ‘bonus track’ but it certainly provides a dramatic finale to the album with jagged guitars and lyrics that recall the traditional “Gallows Pole”.
Rochelle & The Sidewinders offer us a diverse set of tunes here. Some are blues-based, some are not, but the common thread is the quality of Rochelle’s voice, backed by a solid band. On the basis of this album it is not hard to see why the band holds down regular gigs on the highly competitive Austin scene.