The Gypsy Nomads – Happy Madness

The Gypsy Nomads - Happy Madness

Happy Madness, the fourth album from the duo affectionately know by fans as “Frenchy and the Punk”, is chock full of bouncy, fun cabaret punk. The Gypsy Nomads – Samantha Stephenson (percussion, vocals) and Scott Helland (guitar, vocals) – are hard to pin down to any one style. If the Violent Femmes and and Katzenjammer had babies, this is what it might sound like. It’s a steampunk fairytale with a serious case of wanderlust.

The New York City based duo keep things pretty simple on Happy Madness. Their flare comes in the form of raw grit as opposed to polished stones. While a good chunk of The Gypsy Nomads’ sound is reminiscent of the 80’s, it’s the strange bedfellows of the caravan, campfire singalongs and inner city, seedy bar brawling that swirls this mess into a seriously fun album. And by mess, I don’t mean anything even remotely negative – on the contrary, it’s hard not to feel carefree while listening to Happy Madness.

Opener “Make Out” is a foot stomping rocker about meeting a beau in the parking lot for a make out session. It’s a little lascivious, a little silly, and a great tune to sing along with. After this jumping off point, The Gypsy Nomads explore little bits of everything – punk, folk, gypsy – but in the end it’s all wrapped up in a cabaret or street minstrel style. However, while many of today’s gypsy punk bands drip with their preferred style to the point of over saturation, Stephenson and Helland seem to have a firm grasp on the art of nuance and a heavy helping of good humor about themselves and their music.

I’m not entirely sure how to feel about Happy Madness when it’s stacked up next to many of this year’s releases, but one thing is undeniable – it’s a hell of a lot of fun to listen to. While some folks sniff at any album that isn’t part of the latest hipster buzz, my preference will always be for the groups – like The Gypsy Nomads – out there doing what they love for an appreciative audience.