Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, veteran leaders of the Neo-Swing movement, are back with their sixth studio album White Teeth, Black Thoughts, their most mature and polished release to date. The band, consisting of eight current members, has gone through countless changes in both style and line-up, but has finally established itself once again as a talented swing band seemingly pulled straight from the 1940s.
The album consists of 11 beautifully recorded tracks, including covers of Louis Jordan’s “Doug the Jitterbug,” Hank Penny’s “Bloodshot Eyes,” and Bull Moose Jackson’s “I Want a Bow Legged Woman.” The ex-Ska band has found its true niche with this expertly executed, old-fashioned gem that incorporates influences from their past records.
It’s a modern take on the wildly popular style from over half a century ago, meshing new techniques and ideas with the iconic sound of old powerhouses like Sinatra or Dean Martin.
White Teeth begins on a charming note, but gets a little menacing and loud as the opening track progresses. After the short instrumental intro, “The Babooch” starts with the contradicting lyrics, “Oh I’ve found beauty all my days, with an eerie sense of doom/Lucky as Prometheus unbound.” The song gets chaotic as it transitions into the chorus, where lead singer and guitarist Steve Perry and the band chant about Perry being “The Babooch.”
The next track, “I Love American Music,” is exactly what it sounds like: a love song about American music. Covering the most beloved aspects of the old Swing music the band is influenced by, it’s a fun, vintage song with some newer elements scattered throughout.
From the playful lyrics to the instrumentation, the gorgeous title track sounds like a new-age Bobby Darin song. It’s one of the prettiest and most well-orchestrated songs on the record, with a long segment of instrumental solos that show off the true talent this group holds.
While staying true to the lyrics and melody of Hank Penny’s “Bloodshot Eye,” Cherry Poppin’ Daddies made the song its own in this amped-up cover. Sped up and with the addition of a Ska guitar riff in the background, along with other embellishments, the cover is barely comparable to the original song—they exist on completely separate sides of the musical spectrum.
“Huffin’ Muggles” is by far the most original song on the release. While other tracks resemble or cover songs from the past, this one sits completely by itself.
One of the things that sets it apart is the lack of restraint in the lyrics and the innovative drums and Ska guitar during the two breakdowns. “Huffin’ Muggles” is Cherry Poppin Daddies’ most obvious modernization of the Swing genre, and a definite highlight of the album.
White Teeth ends with another epic, fresh song, “Concrete Man Blues.” The track swings back and forth between loud and calm moments, showcasing Perry’s vocals exquisitely alongside beautiful instrumentals. The only downside to this song—and, in all honesty, this album—is that it uses the historical method of fading out to end the track. It would have been much more powerful if it ended on the built-up, ultra-noisy adieu it seemed like it was going to.
With White Teeth, Black Thoughts, Cherry Poppin’ Daddies has shown the world that the Big Band era is far from over. The group perfectly pulled off its attempt at recreating a lost genre of music while remaining true to its roots.
Throwing in unconventional lyrics, bouncy guitars, and some strange drums here and there, the band was able to make this style all its own. This contemporary twist on a classic style is both an homage to times past and a paved road toward the future.
Cherry Poppin’ Daddies – White Teeth, Black Thoughts tracklist:
- “The Babooch”
- “I Love American Music”
- “Whiskey Jack”
- “Doug The Jitterbug”
- “White Teeth, Black Thoughts”
- “Brown Flight Jacket”
- “Bloodshot Eyes”
- “Jake’s Frilly Panties”
- “Huffin’ Muggles”
- “I Want A Bowlegged Woman”
- “Concrete Man Blues”