Blacktop Mojo – Under the Sun – Record Review
By Vince Andreasen
Under the Sun is Blacktop Mojo third release that I have been eagerly anticipating. They are one of my favorite new bands and Under The Sun does not disappoint and elevates the band to new levels. Blacktop Mojo provides strong southern rock appeal with a mix of heavy blues and grit, and Under the Sun is a downright rocking album from top to bottom.
Blacktop Mojo veers from the typical musical formula of verse-chorus-verse-chorus-solo-chorus-out. Most songs build and build upon themselves and often end with the guitar solo. Under The Sun really showcases the talent and versatility of this band. The rhythm section, Matt Curtis on bass and Nathan Gillis on drums, is incredibly strong, and the production quality is excellent. You can feel the pulse of each song down to your toes. The guitar playing from Ryan Kiefer and Chuck Webfer is equally punchy with outstanding riffs and solos, and Matt James’ vocals just simply need to be heard. He is one of my favorite singers to emerge in recent years. He has the power and range to carry any tune, but provides a little southern whine here-and-there that adds emotional flavor and weight to each song.
Opening track Lay It On Me builds slowly introducing each instrument one at a time before kicking you square in the chest with the whole band in unison as they maintain a solid groove around Matt James vocals. Lay It On Me is perfectly titled as it sets the tone for the rest of the record. Solid rhythms and guitar work with Matt’s vocals carrying hooks and melody. It immediately grabs your attention and doesn’t let go, so hold on because this is just the opening song.
Set It Free quickly catches your off guard. It starts in one direction then twists and turns in different musical directions all while taking your emotions with it. It is an outstanding track and showcases Blacktop Mojo’s song writing skills and growth.
Come Get Your Coat is absolutely outstanding! The groove, tempo, phrasing, lyrical content is all perfectly packaged in an outright southern style rocker. One of my favorite tracks on the record.
Lead off single Can’t Sleep is true-to-form Blacktop Mojo. It has a slower tempo, but I wouldn’t consider it a ballad as it still hits hard and has an absolutely fantastic chorus. It is one of those songs that gets stuck in your head for days, yet sounds refreshing the moment you hear it again.
The Lashing (Ghost) has an almost ominously haunting feel to it. It is a slower but incredibly heavy blues shuffle. You immediately feel how it differs from the rest of the record, but you quickly ease into the groove and get wrapped up in the music.
I can complement each track for days. Under The Sun has exceeded my expectations. If you are not familiar with Blacktop Mojo, do yourself a favor and check them out immediately! This is a record that has the ability to find a home on classic rock, alternative rock, and heavy rock radio stations. It is outstanding from start to finish and highly recommended!
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