I love it when a band basically writes your review for you.
On the front cover of “Blacktop Mojo” – the album, Blacktop Mojo, the band include the dictionary definition of rock n roll: “popular music usually played on electronically amplified instruments and characterized by a persistent heavily accented beat, repetition of simple phrases, and often country, folk, and blues elements.”
Sorted. End of review. Big score, see ya later, I am putting the kettle on.
Thing is, people generally want more from their reviews and its kind of beholden on me to explain why this is so damn good.
And yet again I am bound to say this – and yes I know this isn’t conventional either: don’t worry about what anyone says, just listen to “Bed Tundy” the opening song here. It’s not the best one on the collection, but it has got all the ingredients that make BT your (cliché alert) new favourite band.
It builds, lurks, chugs (and that’s just in the intro) and then three things happen. In order of awesomeness, they are: 1) the chorus soars to a point where Matt James sings “ooooh shock and awe” in a way, where frankly you are compelled to join in. 2) the solo that either Ryan Kiefer or Chuck Wepfer (not sure which) plays decides to revive arena rock in a way that makes you think that Slash is back in the building and 3) any rock song that gets the words “nefarious activities” in its first verse (and rhymes it with “felonious proclivities” if you please) will do for me.
There’s a serious point here too, and its this: Within the first four minutes of album number four, Blacktop Mojo have set their stall out. They are a rock band. An arena rock band in waiting, actually, but they aren’t going to follow the formula.
It’s at this point you have to admit you haven’t heard the first three, so there’s a bit of trepidation. Like, are these five boys the sort of band you are going to text your mates about or not? I mean, christ, even Shinedown had one good song (“Devour” sucked me in to such a degree that I bought a ticket to see them and was subjected to them for an hour and a half).
Don’t worry, ladies and gents, these have loads of them. “Cough” thunders as if on serious business, and “Darlin’ I Won’t Tell” manages to sound like a southern rock band, and yet not, all at the same time. That’s a neat trick.
Now, here’s the thing: sometimes on a record, there’s a track so good that it doesn’t actually matter if there’s anything else, you’d simply have to love it (see the aforementioned “Devour” or “Fanatics And Whores” by Showdown, which forced me to buy the only “Christian rock” album of my life) and this has one. It’s called “Do It For The Money” and it adds a kind of southern soul, and frankly you could put it on pretty much any record you liked an it’d still be the best thing there.
“Hold Me Down” tries to revive the power ballad, doing so quite well. Think “I’ll Be There For You” era Jovi and let it slide, “Jealousy” adds a summery kind of Goo Goo Dolls thing, shimmering acoustics and big intent.
“Latex” does slow and blues (ish) (and talks about the latex being sweaty, so its probably best not to pry) “Rewind” seems to take its cues from “Polythene” era Feeder, epic intent, loud/quiet dynamics on point and a chorus that you can’t resist about 30 seconds after hearing it.
“Status Melancholia” strides the earth like some behemoth. The riffs here are huge and thick, “Tail Lights” is from a totally different area. Gorgeous and with a blues tinge, it was the first video they released from the album, but it doesn’t offer much of a clue as to what it contains. That said, neither does “Wicked Woman” which comes from the same place as Audioslave, it seems.
If you’re arsed, read that review again and count the references. They were deliberately all over the place, because this album takes from so many disparate sounds.
Frankly no one knows what this is, not really. “Texas Grunge” they’ve been called, and there’s an element of that, as I suppose if Black Stone Cherry jammed with Soundgarden the results would be something akin to this. That all being said, though, sometimes music can exist without labels. And the words “rock n roll” will do. So will absolutely brilliant, because make no mistake, that’s what this is.