THE SEA MONKS: Gasoline
The Sea Monks are a local rockabilly crew that prove the time-tested sayings about the family that plays together and age just being a number. Their new album is Gasoline, and it is a delight thanks to the three members: dad Jason Kapchinske (bass) and sons Kai (drums) and Noah (lead vocals and guitar). When this disc was recorded last year, Noah, who also wrote four of the 11 tracks, was 16 and his brother 13—and one of the tracks was laid down two years earlier. There may be hope for the millennial generation after all if the rock being cranked out by these kids is any indication. Noah’s talent ceiling in particular based on this album is limited only by the sky.
Most of the tracks here are country and rockabilly standards by patron saints like Jerry Reed and Chuck Berry, but there are other well-chosen surprises. Noah’s vocals not only sound twice his age but his tone also takes on added timbre as if channeling Reed, or even echoes of Steve Earle on songs like the opener, Gene Vincent’s “Race with the Devil.” The stripped-down arrangements throughout are perfect and Noah is up to the task of jumping in on the guitar and dressing up the tunes with crisp solos. His own “Liar Liar” bounces in on mute pad riffs, as he tells her off, “show your pretty face around here, I’ll sic the dogs on you,” in between Duane Eddy-inspired fills.
After a blue-eyed soul turn on “Treat Her Right” that Noah uses to take a jazzy detour on his guitar during the break, the guys do “Memphis” justice before the disc highlight and title tune. Another Noah original, it cranks away on clever lyrics as Noah delivers a brief clinic in rockabilly licks, singing about how his woman is “a napalm bomb, tank of oil, a pot of grits about to boil/ I can’t stop, I never learn, I’m waiting on my turn to burn/ She’s like gasoline, she pours it on, lights a match, I’m good as gone.” Most would not expect the Bee Gees “Stayin’ Alive” to work as a rockabilly song, but it does here, and Noah’s vocal adds just enough slurred syllables to make it sound like it would in a Nashville dive bar.
Another superb track is Reed’s “Amos Moses,” about a Cajun gator hunter and sounding like a throwback to the fifties heyday of rockabilly, as Noah draws the listener into the story about losing hands and disappearing sheriffs in the deep bayou. The only misfire is “Aardvarks,” a waltz beat original that features Jason on mandolin; it isn’t rockabilly and it is the longest track here but it just doesn’t have the magic heard elsewhere. Back on track, the disc closes with “Blackjack County Chain,” about being in a bullwhip chain gang in the South; it hits on all cylinders before ending too soon.
Gasoline is sure to grab some attention for this family act and win the Sea Monks new fans on the local scene.