ALBUM REVIEW: Blacktop Mojo – Under The Sun

I adore being entrusted with juicy secrets, ask my Skullpals. That does not necessarily mean I am successful at keeping the aforementioned secrets, also ask my Skullpals. Being the Skullgurl, I am privy to hearing new music before the general public. Every once and while I am sent a new album and I find myself checking to see if it was sent to me by the C.I.A. or the F.B.I. because the music is so mind-blowing, it must be highly guarded national secret. Such is the case with the new album by Blacktop Mojo, Under The Sun (Self-Released) The tertiary album by the Southern Rock dynamo’s is a secret that should not be kept, cannot be kept, from the music-loving populous. Full disclosure, I jumped on the Blacktop Mojo magic carpet ride in 2014 when I was sent their debut album, and have been continuously knocked on my keister by the magnitude of talent these five Southern gents possess.

As a sound tech, I fully comprehend the importance of song placement on an album. The first track of an album should be herculean and indelible. The first track off of Under The Sun, ‘Lay It On Me’ encompasses everything a lead track from an album should be. Thundering floor toms and bass drum create a powerfully aggressive intro setting lofty expectations of how this song will unfurl. A sleek authoritative bass line usurps the focus until an infectious rhythm guitar hook jumps in and asserts dominance, and all this happens in the first forty-nine seconds of the song. The second the vocals hit, it is game over, we have our belle of the ball. Lead vocalist Matt James, has the kind of voice that is like a punch to the solar plexus, it stops you dead in your tracks. James’s has mastered the art of vocal styling, which in Skullgurl speak means the man does not just open his mouth and let the sounds flow out all willy-nilly. Each and every note is deliberate and memorable. To fully pick up what I am puttin’ down daddios, you must listen to the entire album, then and only then will you really know.

I am a sucker for a sultry blues song, what Skullgurl isn’t? Track five, ‘It Won’t Last’, is a melancholy offering, heavy with unrequited seductive undertones. What makes it notable is the lithe handed blues style of guitarist Ryan Kiefer. Honestly, in this day and age, I have found it unusual to find a guitarist that taps into the very essence of the blues, in Skullgurl speak, does not just regurgitate Blues theory. The kind of Blues style that Keifer exhibits comes directly from his core, the music that he brings forth is part of his very essence.

Track number seven, ‘Can’t Sleep’ is the first single released off of the upcoming album. I wanted to make sure I made a point of urging you, dear reader to check out this single, right meow. This track is a glaringly accurate example of why Blacktop Mojo is a band that will appeal to almost all music lovers. I am not gonna lie, every time I start this track, my body reacts to it and I am covered with goosebumps. I am not sure if it is the poignantly crafted bass hook delivered by Matt Curtis or the lyrical delivery by Matt James, either way, this track is a Hard Rock pièce de résistance.

In summation, I can honestly tell you it was a tad arduous for me not to do a song by song break down of this album. Each of the ten tracks could be stand-alone singles, each with their own consequential identity. This album will hijack your gray matter and whisk you away on a mystical journey teeming with genre-hopping brilliance. I called this band Southern Rock in my intro, I want to retract that assessment, Blacktop Mojo Is simply a magnificently talented Rock Band. Do not hesitate one moment longer, invite Blacktop Mojo into your life immediately.

8 / 10