Rock from down south is more gritty, more dirty, more right. Whatever comes out of the south always has that dig your roots sound, that down to earth and real talk vibe meant to draw you in and relate to something you’ve never experienced. Rock coming from the south will always be my favorite type of rock because it doesn’t fail to give me an emotional reaction. Blacktop Mojo brings that exact sound that I search for when I learn a band is from the Southern states. Straight out of Palestine, Texas, Blacktop Mojo has exactly what it takes to rise the ranks of today’s rock universe.
Made up of Matt James (vocalist), Ryan Kiefer (lead guitar), Nathan Gillis (drummer), Kenneth Irwin (guitarist) and Matt Curtis (bassist), Blacktop Mojo has released an album worth dropping everything you’re doing right now for. Burn the Ships is a mastermind of creative edge and unbelievable musical ability. 13 tracks full of eclectic musical tastes combined into a maelstrom of passion, dedication and sweat equity. Released on 3/10/2017, this album is available immediately for your listening pleasure.
Starting off with their chart topping single “Where the Wind Blows” (and the first song that perked my ears to their kind) we get a sly taste of what makes up Blacktop Mojo. Sweet, sweet guitar picking kicks us into a gritty electric guitar intro. Matt James dives in with his honeyed voice, instantly making a dizzying concoction meant to inebriate you with top-shelf premium whisky of the musical kind.
The album’s namesake “Burn the Ships” has a rolling guitar that’s almost haunting in nature. Think Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl esque, when the skeleton pirates are marching under the sea to the naval ships (spoiler alert!) I don’t know how to make sense of that, so you’re just going to have to trust me on that. It’s a brilliant way of drawing the image of the story they’re trying to tell you.
“Prodigal” features the softer side of Blacktop Mojo. I’m always appreciative of a rock group that is willing to be vulnerable. We hear Matt James’ fantastic range of emotional inflection into his voice, from gentle to soaring and everything in between. Then we get Ryan Kiefer’s guitar solo and nothing makes you want to throw your horns up with as much gusto as this. Fast, powerful, beautifully done. My only complaint is that it’s only four minutes long. Four minutes, guys, it’s not enough.
My eyes drew to a song titled “Dream On” and thought “Could it really be?” and sure as hell, it really is. A Blacktop Mojo cover of my favorite Aerosmith song. A SOUTHERN ROCK take on Aerosmith. I don’t think I can gush enough. Matt James blows it out of the water with a vocal range that is a true rival to Steven Tyler, Ryan Kiefer kills that classic Aerosmith sound with a little twist of his own style, paired beautifully with Kenneth Irwin rounding out the rhythm.
We get an acoustic touch with “Underneath” as the last song, finalizing an album full of welcome surprises and musical catharsis. Blacktop Mojo has managed to create a sophomore album worthy of top charts and all of your attention. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to listen to this band, you’ll regret it. Excuse me while I now feverishly search tour dates.