If you're wondering who Rockdownbaby are, then let me put
you out of your misery straight away and tell you that they
are in fact Deena Shoskes' (from The
Cucumbers) current side project. And although Shoskes'
vocals are unmistakeable once you know it's her, this seven
track mini-album is some way removed from the country-ish
feel of the last Cucumbers album, All
Things To You,
from a couple of years ago. Rockdownbaby sees Shoskes going
off in a more fun - and at times dancey – direction, which
admittedly works better at some points than others.
Indeed, Love & Sex & Rock & Roll doesn't start
too well for me. I'm none too keen on the rather insubstantial
opening Test Drive, but it quickly recovers ground with
the quirky TV Dog which, with its repetitive beat, neat
double tracked vocals, and funny little keyboard solos, has
a Rock Lobster feel to it. Baby Baby, which follows,
is even better with a delicious lazy summers day sound c/o
a wah-wah guitar that vies for space with a high-pitched synth.
It also has a lovely melody which is ideally suited to Deena's
longing voice and is one of those tracks that is, alas, over
just that bit too soon. My pick of the album!
I'm less keen on the gimmicky I Am Your Rockdownbaby though.
Like Test Drive, it has a dancey sort of beat, and,
with its repeated vocals and studio trickery, it was probably
fun to record. Ultimately – again like Test Drive -
there's just not enough substance to it, even if there is a
nice organ sound popping up here and there. Soul Connection which
follows is much better, with a lovely summer sounding riff.
Indeed, it's another number where The B-52's come to mind,
albeit the later Love Shack version of the band. There's
some neat backing vocals, too, that's reminiscent of the fab
Lori & The
Chameleons single, Touch, from the iconic late 70's
Liverpool label, Zoo. Yep. I like this one a lot.
Spy On You is another good song, but as much as I like Deena's voice, I can't help thinking it's mixed that little bit too high because the number would undoubtedly benefit from a touch more oomph if the guitars were turned up that little bit. I Feel My Sex closes the set nicely, being a mid-paced number that benefits from its backing vocals and echoey guitar solo. But it's definitely TV Dog, Baby Baby, and Soul Connection that deserve the plaudits.
Whether we'll hear from Rockdownbaby again is, I guess, a matter of conjecture, because apparently there's a solo Shoskes album in the pipeline. Love & Sex & Rock & Roll is certainly a promising start though, and if 'they' were to ditch the more dancey moments and stick to what they do best, they could be onto something here.