Call the Trip Daddys a rockabilly band at your own peril. Pigeonhole the band as a one-shot, one-note act, and guitarist, singer and head Daddy Craig Straubinger will take you to school on the roots of rock & roll and the intersections of country and R&B music found therein. This much is clear on the seven-song EP The Life We Chose, in which Straubinger and company take a pass through rock's roots and refine its own slick, twangy licks with a little punk-rock muscle. The disc's opening track offers a good hint at the band's current direction, as "All American Boy" celebrates a blue-collar upbringing with a steady diet of Gene Vincent and fast cars. That retro fetishism — always a key element of this band — continues with the disc's two cover songs: A chugging version of Roy Orbison's "Claudette" features, of all things, an acoustic rhythm guitar, and the instrumental take on the Lennon/McCartney nugget "She's a Woman" vibrates with plenty of slapback delay.
As on 2009's Roll On!, the rhythm section of Dennis Williams (Ded Bugs) and Tracey Morrissey (Sex Robots) has given the Trip Daddys a punchy, no-frills drive. But this is a guitar band, and Straubinger remains a master of quick reverb-soaked licks. "New Girl" gives the band a mid-tempo rockabilly number to ease into, while "The Hodge Podge Rag" fits more notes into 80 seconds than most bands manage on a whole disc; it's Bakersfield by way of the Bay Area. "Surf Noir" speaks for itself in title alone, and "Hometown Blues" is a nice bit of Chuck Berry-inspired wanderlust, a yearning for a break from the same old scene. Inspiration comes from many places, and on this brief EP, a long look backward and a brief glance toward the future suffices for a band that has long straddled the line between past and present.— Christian Schaeffer
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