First let me start off by saying that my son asked me to review this album. I believe he thought this would be a bonding experience for us, something we could enjoy together. As a man who grew up in the 1970’s, I secretly had only a pittance of hope that I would enjoy his music. Man, was I wrong! This album grabbed me from the first driving drum beat of “Lay it On Me”, and didn’t let go until the last crazy guitar solo at the end of “Under the Sun”. 

For those of you reading this who are new to the band, like me, Blacktop Mojo is:

Matt James – Vocals

Nathan Gillis – Drums

Ryan Kiefer – Guitar

Chuck Wepfer – Guitar

Matt Curtis – Bass

This is their third album. After listening to this one, the entire evening yesterday, I downloaded I am and Burn the Ships. I gotta tell you that the first two were great, but “Under the Sun” is simply exceptional. That rare combination of music that sticks with you long after the songs end….to me that’s really the purest definition of great music.

 “Lay it on me” starts out with this slow drum roll beat and builds into a strong base-line and twin guitar leads that are just so crucial to this song’s beauty. Throw in Matt James’ vocals and you have a perfect introduction to this band and to this album. I loved the variety of the music that these guys can pull off. Four songs in and you’ve experienced Rock, Metal, Grunge, and Blues at its best!

 “Come get Your Coat” is one of those “one night stand songs” that just makes you smile. Oh and when Matt sings, “Try to keep it down” toward the end of the song, he breaks the word “down” into two syllables and up an octave, the line then becomes one of those “stuck in your head” lyrics that you’ll be hearing all day!

 “Keep” is one of my favorites. I’m dating myself here, but the song sounds like a cross between Deep Purple and Thin Lizzy. It has a classic guitar riff that just builds this song into a masterpiece. The bass and guitar solos will just blow you away!

 “It won’t Last” is one of those songs that will be interpreted differently by everyone who listens to it. Is it a song of regret? A song of joy? Of love, or love lost? It has a slow haunting start, builds to a beautiful crescendo of passion, and ends with what sounds like a church organ. Here’s just a sample of the lyrics: 

“Why can’t it just be the same. After this it’s all gonna change. Hurry now darling, the morning’s closing in fast. The best thing about this feeling is it won’t last.” 

That’s just some good writing right there. I believe this is my favorite song on the album.

 The Lashing(Ghost) is another top-notch arrangement. If the Allman Brother’s “Whipping Post” were a person, then the “The Lashing” would be it’s crazy cousin that the family keeps locked away, only to let out when the party is winding down and needs a good kick in the ass!

 The album ends with “Under the Sun”. It’s a driving, heavy train of a song that knocks you down you and doesn’t let you up for air until the very last note!  I would highly recommend this album. It is a joy to listen to and Blacktop Mojo absolutely schools everyone on how to do it right. Period! (Insert mic drop). I believe this should be a huge success for them….something that will propel the band to new and well deserved heights. 

About T.M. Strubel

Deep in the Blue Mountains of Pennsylvania, you’ll find this guy, rocking out at his favorite campground. When not hosting a game of trivia at the famous “Cow Palace,” you’ll find him riding the nature trails in his custom golf cart, listening to music as diverse as Aerosmith, Cream and Pink Floyd, to Jane’s Addiction and Lenny Kravitz. It’s true, he probably shouldn’t be driving so fast with Parkinson’s Disease, but don’t tell him that. He’s been moving and shaking (get it??) to his own beat ever since he snuck out at age 15 to see George Thorogood & The Destroyers. So...if you find yourself lost in the woods some cold night, and hear the mournful sounds of “Folsom Prison Blues” echoing through the trees, make your way to the source. You’ll find a roaring campfire beside a gazebo. Pull up a camp stool and sit next to the guy with the cane. You’ll soon realize that’s not Johnny Cash he’s playing. That would be “Small Town Titans”, and he’d love to tell you about them! Stay awhile. Let’s talk music...

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