Direct from Abita Springs, the Abitals deliver a straight-ahead unpretentious rock ’n’ roll album. While they may tip their hat to the lads from Liverpool, this is music clearly informed by south Louisiana. Robert Snow (bass and vocals), Anthony Donado (drums, tambourine and vocals), Andrew Vaughan (guitar, mandolin and vocals) and Ricky Stelma (accordion and vocals) stir up their own version of a musical gumbo with a sense of style and fun on their eponymous release.
“See That Girl” kicks things off and it’s obvious that this is going to be a very accessible, down-home and danceable record. Ricky Stelma’s accordion is up front and center—as it is throughout the record—and sets the stage for what is to come.
Stelma’s accordion kicks off “Bayou Bugaloo” as Donado falls in behind, pushing the beat forward on drums. “Bayou Bugaloo” exemplifies the fact that, while obviously influenced by the Beatles, this is a record that could only be made by a group from south Louisiana. Both musically and lyrically this is music for the home team crowd—“Would you pole with me down the Teche Bayou/ Drifting in the shadows, sipping on a beer/ Thanking the Lord that he put me right here”—yeah, they get it!
“Pointe a la Hache” comes out of the gate swinging with Vaughan’s double stops à la Chuck Berry. The band delivers Beatles-like harmonies while channeling local favorites the Creole String Beans. By this point the record’s formula is mostly set. While there are some surprises later on (check out Vaughan on mandolin and Stelma on accordion trading leads on “Darlene”), it is clear that the Abitals enjoy what they do.
Stelma delivers a killer Ray Charles–like intro on “She” as the band falls into a nice slinky groove. And speaking of grooves, “Yea Yea Yea” features an in-your-face swagger from both Vaughan and Stelma over a solid funky rhythm courtesy of Donado and Snow. This has the aggression and no-holds-barred feel of any number of classic Doors recordings. At this point, there is only one thing left to say: Ladies and gentlemen… the Abitals!