Over the years Texas has proved to be a true cradle of new blues and rock bands, spreading out its musical heritage all over the US and the world. Just to name a few, names as Freddie King, Doyle Bramhall II, Jack White, ZZ Top, Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown, among many others have taken Texas to the highest places in music. From Palestine, TX, Blacktop Mojo is a band that represents the heavy and hard rock side of Texan music. The band consists of vocalist Matt James, drummer Nathan Gillis, guitarists Ryan Kiefer and Chuck Wepfer, and bassist Matt Curtis. On the road since 2012, they recently released their fourth full-length album, the self-titled Blacktop Mojo.
The album starts with the great “Wicked Woman”, leaving a hint about what the band came for. Strong vocals, guitars perfectly synchronized and a “kitchen” highly harmonized. “Bed Tundy” comes in the same direction with a massive vocal/guitar riff and a stupendous solo. Slowing down the beats, “Latex” starts as a ballad but it progressively gains body and soul, becoming a pleasant hard rock song.
“Rewind” has more flawless guitar work, consisting of extremely well-performed muted/loosed strings and harmonics, dictating the rhythm of the song. In “Jealousy” and “Darlin’ I Won’t Tell” the highlights are Matt James’ vocals. Skillfully, he leads the band going easily from the calmest intros to the powerful choruses. The short “Make Believe (Interlude)” has an enjoyable ambiance, including a Hispanic-like acoustic solo.
In “Do It For The Money” the band incorporates other elements as female choir snippets. With a Black Sabbath’s inspired riff, the song has philosophical lyrics, questioning the meaning of love and money. A mixing among hard rock guitar, acoustics, and slides I’d never think of as a possible or enjoyable thing, but they proved me wrong. That’s what you’ll find in “Hold Me Down”, the lightness of slide solos and the weight of the bass and drums.
The most “experienced” listener probably will remember the British hard rock band Bush, from the “remote” 1990s. Wittingly or not, Blacktop Mojo brings on “Cough”, a Bush resemblance with progressive elements in the chorus. “Stratus Melancholia” has a dark climate, reinforced by the low-down tune and emotive and paced vocals. The exact opposite mood is brought by “Tail Lights”, where the several guitar solos have calming effects.
Throughout the songs you can hear the care and concerns of the band in delivering a refined work, taking all the precautions to present a promptly recognizable sound. All the songs were thoroughly sculpted, telling a full story that includes beginning, middle, and end. Blacktop Mojo reaffirms the personality of a true Texan rock n’ roll band.
The Review: 8.5/20
Can’t Miss Tracks
– Wicked Woman
– Bed Tundy
– Do It For The Money
– Tail Lights
The Big Hit
– Wicked Woman