The Austin Chronicle

Phases and Stages

Texas Platters

Reviewed by Jerry Renshaw, September 13, 2002, Music

High Noon

What Are You Waiting For? (Goofin')

For a good rockabilly band, a drummer is redundant. Witness Elvis, Scotty, and Johnny Cash's Tennessee Two, or for that matter, Austin's High Noon. The insistent slap-and-click of the standup bass and percussive rhythm of an acoustic guitar is enough to drive the songs, and enough to send couples out on the dance floor in droves. It's a formula that's sparse and stripped-down, but still full-sounding and utterly authentic. High Noon has been at it for more than 10 years now, and this latest disc shows that they're still the band that other late-comers strive to measure up to. Sean Mencher pulls off amazingly complex rhythm and lead work on his Fender guitar (witness finger picking instrumental "Comanche Moon"), Shaun Young's vocals are dead-on, and Kevin Smith's just a-slappin' that ol' bass like there's no tomorrow. "Let's Go Daddy-O" is infectious and irresistible, great harmony vocals, while "Hanging (From the Old Oak Tree)" is a fine story song in the tradition of Marty Robbins (minus the smarm). "Railroad Crossing" is a how-to on the train beat (appropriately enough), and "Yard Dog" is a down-and-dirty done-me-wrong number. It's amazing how High Noon can take a style of music that's so tradition-bound and make it sound fresh. Their influences are apparent enough (a page from Johnny Burnette here, a pinch of Buddy Holly there), yet they somehow don't wear them on their sleeves like so many other bands do. It's their phenomenal skills as players and their solid songwriting that make them stand out from the rest of the pack. Good going, guys.


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