Cherry Poppin’ Daddies album review

Cherry Poppin' Daddies will perform in the Washington, DC area. (Rod Black)
August 15, 2013
“White Teeth, Black Thoughts”

Kindred spirits: Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Brian Setzer, Reel Big Fish

Show: Saturday at the Hamilton.
Show starts at 8:30 p.m. 202-787-1000. $27.50 in advance, $29.50 at the door.

The Cherry Poppin’ Daddies might be most famous for their late-90s swing-revival song “Zoot Suit Riot,” but the eight-piece band from Eugene, Ore., has always performed a combination of swing, ska and punk. The group, however, chose a single path for its new release, “White Teeth, Black Thoughts,” its first album of purely swing numbers since 1997’s “Zoot Suit Riot.”

The result is a collection of sassy, horn-accented tunes that are more reminiscent of the 1990s than of the 1940s. Unlike their contemporaries, the Daddies routinely put a modern spin on their lyrics, rather than romanticizing the past. So tunes such as the raunchy “I Want a Bowlegged Woman” and the graphic “Jakes Frilly Panties” sound more like contemporary bar-rock songs in a swing style than the work of a retro act.

And yet, surprisingly, the Daddies flourish when they channel a little nostalgia. The album’s most tender moment is “Brown Flight Jacket,” which tells the story of a deathbed gift with warmth and a dash of mystery, thanks to some dramatically placed whispers. The song is one of the few moments on “White Teeth, Black Thoughts” with that level of subtlety. It’s a welcome break for a group that has never seemed to grow out of its bawdy lyrics and rambunctious style.

Catherine P. Lewis

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