ALBUM REVIEW: Blacktop Mojo – Under The Sun

Blacktop Mojo have released their third album, Under The Sun, through independent label, Cuhmon Records [September 13]. A follow up to 2017’s Burn The Ships, this 10-song album showcases the band enjoying the ride which in turn gives the listener plenty of reasons to keep the music on repeat.

Lay It On Me is the perfect introduction to this album. Nathan Gillis’ gradual buildup of drumming at the start is quickly matched by Matt Curtis’ rumbling bass, which is noticeable throughout the entire song. Instantly, singer Matt James catches your attention and at times is comparable to the screaming guitar solo. The song is loud, it’s heavy and it’s how you should start an album.

The multiple levels of churning conjured in Set It Free are not only appealing to your listening experience, this one gets under your skin and finds that place that will cause you to react without even realizing you’re doing it. Come Get Your Coat draws upon easy-flowing lyrics and Keep’s prominent bass playing throughout, works nicely against the intensity of James’ singing. The added bonus is the one-two punch of dual guitar playing from Ryan Kiefer and Chuck Wepfer.

At the halfway point, It Won’t Last is the longest song on the album and really stands out from the others. I first heard this live back in May 2018 so it’s nice to see it made the cut. The addition of an organ really breathes life into an already bluesy song style and the ripping guitar solo is a nice flare at the end. “The best thing about these feelings, is it won’t last.”

Things come back up to speed with All Mine Now and the Blacktop Mojo magic is all over this one. A chunky, solid song with group vocals and clapping that really give the chorus in the back half of the song that anthem flavor for crowd participation in a live setting.

Can’t Sleep, the first single released, starts at mid-tempo and slowly draws the listener in before the hard-hitting intensity in James’ vocal is revealed. The difference in the pace of the verse and chorus trade-off develops nicely. “Lies make you weak and that’s why you can’t sleep.” Watch the video, based on an original concept by Matt James, below.

 

 

While The Lashing (Ghost) has the most unique sounding guitar tones, the rhythm is very different and as a result, feels a little out of place among the other songs. However, listeners shouldn’t pass it over as it does have a quirkiness about it.

The last two songs on the album will surely become fan favorites. The Void is a great representation of the band in tune with each other. Musically there are many layers and that soaring guitar solo? Magnificent. “Will you answer the void when it calls?” While title track, Under The Sun, closes out the album with just as much intensity as the very first song. Slinking along at the start, James’ high pitched vocals are a nice contrast to the trudging pace.

Equal parts creativity, influence and old-fashioned hard work, Under The Sun is a cohesive example of Blacktop Mojo playing to their strengths. With the band’s brand of rock, which has an underlying heavy, fat groove that appeals on so many levels, you can’t help but sit back and enjoy the ride.

 

Purchase Under The Sun on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play or listen on Spotify.

 

Find September and October tour dates here.

 

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