Spayed Koolie released their full-length album, Ashtray Change, not too long ago. Although tagged as an Americana band with country and southern rock influences, Spayed Koolie’s sound is pure southern swamp rock.
Made up of David Dorr and Dr. Neal “Quickdraw” Phillips, the band most often performs as a duo but has been known to expand to three, four, five, and even six-pieces when playing big festivals or opening for name acts.
The band’s name – Spayed Koolie – was borrowed from swing fiddler, Spade Cooley, who was popular during the ‘40s and ‘50s. Widely recognized in pop culture, Cooley was a persistent character in James Ellroy’s novels, among many other cultural references.
Spayed Koolie has opened for Montgomery Gentry, Kellie Pickler, .38 Special, Pat Benatar, the Charlie Daniels Band, and Brantley Gilbert.
Encompassing 10 tracks, Ashtray Change features a number of standout tunes, including “100 Years (Need),” a swamp-filled southern rock tune with radiant guitars and a twangy, chugging feel. A fiddle/guitar solo infuses the tune with tight, stirring energy. “We Ain’t Blind” comes closest to pure southern rock, pervaded by heavy guitars and a potent rhythm rolling and swaying with taut vibes.
My favorite song on the album is the band’s cover of Van Morrison’s “Brown-Eyed Girl.” Spayed Koolie’s version squelches with a down-home feel driven by the sawing fiddle and warm vocal harmonies. The title track offers what amounts to a swampy alt rock tune powered by a throbbing bass and a hollowed-out drum sound. There’s something about this tune reminiscent of John Cougar Mellencamp, a pulsating, muscular, visceral ambience with a small town sensibility.
“Today Is the Day” is a simple tune made up of just a fiddle and an acoustic guitar. Although instrumentally austere, the tune provides an abundance of sonic oomph because of the harmonic arrangement.
Engulfed in bayou flavors, Ashtray Change exudes a bluesy, quagmire of scrumptious southern surfaces. It’s thick, gooey, and oh so delightful.