Jan Babiński – vocals
Konrad Ciesielski – drums
Piotr Danielewicz – guitars
Michał Banasik – guitars
Marcin Bąkowski – bass guitar
Michał Koziorowski – keys
Ring ring… Ring ring…
(Man on receiver) – Hi! You’ve reached Octopussy. How can we help you?
(Caller) Hi this is the late 60’s and early 70’s! Who am I speaking with? We want our sound back.
(Octopussy) – Well you certainly called the right people. Where should we start?
(60’s/70’s) – How about some funky, bass driven rock?
(Octopussy) – Can do
(60’s/70’s) – Hendrix inspired guitar work?
(Octopussy) – Check
(60’s/70’s) – Disco vocals?!?
(Octopussy) – uhhhh… let’s keep that to one track…
(60’s/70’s) – I was only kidding on that one.
(Octopussy) – Well too late. You’re getting it. It fits with the funk track anyway. We’ll stick to a more bluesy, psychedelic groove for the rest of the album. Maybe a splash of southern rock but not too much. Sound okay for ya?
(60’s/70’s) – So how about the vocals on the remaining tracks?
(Octopussy) – We’re going with a mix of smooth melodic, and raspy blues… plus some heavily distorted screams and speech.
(60’s/70’s) – Uhh.. screams?
(Octopussy) – Don’t worry about it. We’ll make sure it works within the context of the album.
(60’s/70’s) – In that case, we demand a ballad.
(Octopussy) – Sure. But it’s going to be trippy as fuck and really short.
(60’s/70’s) – I feel you don’t much like compromise.
Rust Belt, USA (roughly in a garage, somewhere on the east side of Des Moines, IA)
Genre: self-described ‘Midwest Junk Soul’
Band Members: Wrex – Drums. Larry – Upright Bass Nathan – Pedal Steel Brad – Guitar Matthew – Acoustic / vocal.
Previous Release: “Live From The Loft” (2016)
Review: When I hear the term ‘rust-belt’, I am immediately in mind of that region of the country that begins in western New York and traverses west through Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, and the Lower Peninsula of Michigan, ending in northern Illinois, eastern Iowa, and southeastern Wisconsin. Previously known as the industrial heartland of America, Industry has been declining in this region since the mid-20th century, leading to the unofficial labeling as the ‘Rust Belt’.
Including Detroit MI in it’s ‘snare’ that has served as home for Matthew, a singer songwriter originally hailing from the ‘dirty mitten’, aka Michigan. He has been howling in microphones since 2000 and recording hand made lo-fi junk since 2006 with the formation of The Back Home in Michigan Band. He spent a few years touring with Rickett Pass, rambling around the country before settling in Des Moines Iowa. This album is singer Matthew James’ story of moving to Des Moines from his home of Detroit for a girl and leaving everything behind including music with his nationally touring string bands. The single “Goodbye” was written on that drive as heard in the lyrics. Matthew James & The Rust Belt Union refer to their brand of music as ‘Midwest Junk Soul’ and that description could not be more accurate.
Ten tracks that clock in at around 44 minutes. Musically, what we are presented with here is a collection of compositions that fly up and down the proverbial scale of ‘type’ where we get everything from the elements of folk, gypsy, jazz, be-bop, country, bluegrass, blues, swing and rock to deliver what can only be described as a hybrid that could be described only as Midwest-junk-soul as they have aptly classified themselves.
Filled from the get-go, opener ‘Goodbye’ has each element described above in full force from the raspy vocals flavored with battery-acid, jangly acoustic in tow, great swing beat setting the pace as a soulful wail of lap-steel flows in and out of focus giving the body of this, and each track here a flavor typically kept in the background. Much as Primus brought ‘eh bass guitar to a new level having it out from the shadows, MJ&TRBU have brought this obscure-to-rock instrument to the forefront as well and it is amazing!!
‘Little Light In The Big Rust’ opens with a surf-slide tone over that acoustic guitar and slams right into the body of a song that makes you move! Like it or not as the beat is infectiously hypnotic and keeps you in hold as Matthew sings of a “child crying and a mother trying” on top of a band that is as tight as any and doesn’t drop a note among the slyly-placed time shifts keep you wanting more. ‘Enthusiastic Apathetic’ opens with a slower, bluesy cadence as MJ’s vocal paints his picture over the band behind him and this pace fits this oratory like a glove, where ‘Left Foot Fail’ is country to the core complete with an upbeat ‘two-step’ rhythm line that pulls your boots to tap at the least along in response.
Shifting gears again with ‘Dying Dogs In South Carolina’, we are given another diatribe of wondering ‘why’, and when ‘Holidays’ kicks in with it’s faster upbeat tempo, it is right on time and lifts the mood again, even as Matthew slides forth with what must be an introspective perspective of what I can only guess to be a typical holiday for as he states that he said “We’re all going to Hell”…
The final four tracks represent what I would hope would a block of songs played in this particular order and could very well be the perfect ‘end-piece’ for their live set. From the soft acoustic opening of ‘600 Miles’ with it’s “Cold-moon sinking” into the ‘So broke” exclamation of ‘Tough’ through the advice of ‘It’s The Kind Of Place’ that could very well be describing a day in the life and by the time closing track ‘And We Went Drinking With Ed Love!’ hits, it is the perfect wrap-up of one HELL of a story an I found myself hitting play again after the frenetic ending section to savor it all again.
If you are looking for something that is meaty and satisfying at the same time, cured with the purity of music for the sake of music and masterful storytelling hidden behind a vocal style that will make you listen harder to catch each word, THIS is the record for you. Support them live if they come to a garage / tavern / library / or any other venue near you, play it to death for everyone you know and keep it LOUD!!
Line Up: Rex Brown / Lead vocals, Rhythm guitar , Bass Christopher Williams / Drums Lance Harvill / Guitar, collaboration Peter Keyes / Piano
When I first heard about this record coming out, I had ZERO idea what to expect, what with Rex Brown’s extensive and prolific career that is right around 30+ years along and kickin’, could be anything, right?? Would it be the hyper-power of Pantera, or some countrified shredding like Rebel Meets Rebel with David Allen Coe?? Maybe the stoner grooving of Superjoint Ritual or even the ‘Pepper‘d tone of Down or possibly something closer to the progressive speed of Kill Devil Hill?? My mind was reeling as I hit ‘play’ for the first time on this album…
The familiar click of a Zippo lighter and I hear “Smoke on this…” before being greeted by a power-punch of guitar/bass and cymbal hit hard as opener ‘Lone Rider’ jumped out of my speakers in welcome thunder as Rex‘ voice took form hold with a tale of pure rock-n-roll introspection, complete with guitar solo intact. This is NOT metal as you may have been expecting and Rex himself has said he is not catering to the expectations of anyone, doesn’t give a fuck what anybody says as he is doing this for HIM and if anybody wants to ride along, get on.
‘Crossing Lines’ is a slower tempo’d excursion into how to “Give it all for nothing’ reminding you there is no one else to blame as this bluesy tale flows along with a complexity that is smooth as glass and there is no escaping how the crackling, crunchy voicing lace their fingers into yours as this guitar slinging legend re-introduces himself to you and opens his veins with each song, letting you look through his eyes to get another take on his life experience seasoned perspective in a way he has not offered before. ‘Buried Alive’ is the confessional Rex used, to give us the story of how he dealt with his own loss of Dimebag Darrell and is simply stellar from first note to last, where ‘Train Song’ lets Rex point out that “We all get away underground, so, here we are, now find a way to calm down…” with a tone that lets you know he is not fucking around.
‘Get Yourself Alright’ is an outright pure stoner-feel romp where Rex asks directly, “What are you waiting for?” and will have you wondering the same thing with the multi-layered vocals spinning all around you, showing that the mastery being given in the purest form possible, is indeed just WHAT we have been waiting for, just as ‘What Comes Around’ is an even sharper tale from within the soul of honesty and reflection laced with enough emotion to get the point across clearly, just as ‘Best Of Me’ opens melancholy in feel as we hear of the “Shadows of myself beside me” and the chorus hits with power chords ringing, shifting back to the soft touch, even as a slide guitar rings echoes in the background as you are beckoned to ‘Stop… look round.”
Genre-blurring is something Rex has been doing his whole career and with this album, not only do we get to feel the bombastic, guitar driven swagger of rock-n-roll, but there is southern rock here as with ‘So Into You’ with the double Skynyrd-slide harmonies that make up the body of the backwall, and the surprising yet SO cool funk flavor of ‘Grace’ with it’s jangly 70’s sounding guitar line that is a great song in tones, composition and arrangement and the mix just WORKS on every level.
Standout track from this one for me, if I HAVE to pick one, would be ‘Fault Line’ in that Rex has said that he really ‘found’ his voice with this track and once he had it, he knew he could indeed step out front and made the rest just come together. The reach is well within his grasp and hopefully will lead to much more out of this man that so many of us have known of for so long.
In my opinion, he did what a true virtuoso does by metaphorically opening his veins to pour his very essence into these creations and this record is that deep and personal of a gift as he steps through so many doors to deliver on each track. Saying that his motto these days is to “Shake some shit up”, he has certainly delivered here and says this is about musical freedom and fun and puts forth that he’s got SO MUCH more in him and is quote “Just getting my feet wet” Enquote.
Find this ‘train’ and GET ONBOARD, drag all you know with you onto and witness it in a live setting if you get the chance… keep it LOUD!!
To quote him directly, “You’re only as good as your word, and your word better be good.”
Band Members Steve Moss – Guitar / Vocals Brandon Burghart – Drums Mike Boyne – Bass
Previous Releases “The Johnny Boy” EP (2008)
“Live At Roadburn” (2013)
“Cold Was The Ground” (2015)
Almost ten years in the making. Steve enters the arena with long-time friend and drummer (and one time bass player of TMGT) Brandon alongside and featuring a solidified line-up, now anchored by Mike who now shows a tenure of over 4 years on bass (not an easy feat for this band). Some of the BEST yet from this powerhouse three piece is what this record, the fourth full-length release from The Midnight Ghost Train, represents. 10 songs that clock in at just under 45 mins and this time out, The Midnight Ghost Train has decided to run the complete gamut of musical styles, not limiting themselves to anything in particular. Usually thought of for their blues-heavy/stoner/doom groove they established more and more with each previous release, with this album we have it all and then some as you may not have expected.
Opener and lead-off single ‘Tonight’ is a great example of the focus being used with it’s soft guitar opening before the power chords hit you right at 30 seconds and we hear Steve’s voice with “I got some time to kill, and you’ve got someone to bring my head down, ’cause I’ve been spinnin’ round'” and we’re off on what could very well be the most cohesive and coherent offering to come from this unit. The frenetic bass line that starts off “Red-Eyed Junkie Queen” belies the pace that this tale sets off on and the staccato bends are the perfect backdrop for this romp-fest of hammering drums, pummeling bass and enough distortion to scrap your knuckle son as this tale of rolls on, where ‘Glenn’s Promise’ hits with a muted tempo that lures you in with equally muted chords until at 26 seconds in, the fullness returns, thick enough to knock you down as Steve’s gruff vocals tell of ‘Promises, promises, you’re taking….” and the galloping drumline grabs you by the arm and guides you along the way and the fury keeps building with the pace and by the time the solo section hits, you are already in full-force headbanging mode and there is no escape wanted. The sheer structure of on the foundation TMGT has built with their previous outings is solidified and as each brick is placed with each note, the resulting structure is stronger than before.
‘Bury Me Deep’, opening with a lone guitar progression, further exemplifies that these songs seem more rooted in a depth that while not missing before, has now been brought to the forefront to let us see that these three are beyond ready to take their place in the lexicon of pure ROCK-N-ROLL bands that refuse to be pigeon-holed into any one genre, preferring to show their muscle tackling many song-styles with the strongest songwriting to come from this camp yet. ‘The Watcher’s Nest’ has one of the softest, almost soothing intro’s and the tempo is awash with ride cymbals before we get told that ‘We’re going down, down into the light’ and you are moving again and then another quick pause… and back to the slow even shuffle before another blast of the chorus that lead to an astral wah’d solo burst that adds even more to what is already so manner layers of flavors that each permeate through yet meld together in the most cohesive amalgam possible.
The next thing you know, it is a complete 180 to what is almost a LEON REDBONE meets TOM WAITS salute with a love song that is pure TMGT is essence and delivery and you can’t help but smile as this tale of passion unfolds. ‘Lemon Trees’ is a more familiar flow with a seemingly softer jangly approach that is equal parts hart and soul that moves you through, following this tale of pressure that holds attention tight, following each word to get the whole picture.
The final four tracks each lend themselves to show even more virtuosity and flexibility in flavors they can pull off seamlessly at whim. ‘The Boogie Down (featuring Sonny)’ is almost CAKE meets The BOSSTONES and the result is upbeat, where ‘Black Wave’ opens in pure spaced-out stoner bliss complete with a bass line that is soft as a feather pillow and massive in presence at the same time with this introspective analysis that is as enveloping as any other track on here. ‘The Echo’ is almost a cowboy-western song with the galloping pace of the drumline, the perfect progression that make up the body in a KARMA TO BURN structure that punches hard to the chest before the pace shifts back in a hypnotic use of sustain and lingering chords that wrap all the way around your brain stem and no restraint given.
As the fuzzed out bass fades, it is perfection indeed before we hear what can only be an almost ED GEIN voicing in this dark closer that stands out for ME as pure brilliance. It showcases just how maniacal in tone and darkness of delivery as you can almost see his smile asking these sardonic questions pushing you to the edge of your seat, waiting for the next as this collection of three spirits shows that they have reached a new depth in composition and arrangement. They are tighter than ever before and with the newest production values that have been used in abundance, it is clear that the rest of the world needs to catch up and jump onboard with the pinnacle to this point that these guys show they are at.
Buy it YESTERDAY, play it for every pair of ears you encounter, support them LIVE if they come anywhere close and keep it LOUD!!
Band members: Sébastien Mathieu (guitar) Sébastien Usel (vocals) Ludovic Favro (bass) Nicolas Millo (drums)
Previous Releases – “Démo” (2013) / “Extended Play” (2014) / “Devil’s Complaint” single (2016) / “Extended Play 2” (2016) / “Whiskey” single (2017)
Loosely stated, this is an all-out, balls to the wall party band borne from a mutual violent-love of beer as the band cites in their description of how it got started. According to that, Mathieu decides to go back to ‘scratch’ and sets up a group. Within a short time, with a lot of people and a violent love for beer, so is born POSTE 942. With thick, slippery riffs, the band merges the blues, stoner, a little grunge, elements of old-school punk and even some southern rock flavors here, complete with an ORANGE ™ amp sound straight from the banks of the Caramy, via means of the factory in Atlanta, Georgia. While this may sound like an extreme mixture of some elements that would not necessarily blend well, the concoction we are offered with this, the first official full-length release, is sweeter than the coolest southern tea with ALL of the kick of pure Tennessee whiskey over fresh-cracked ice and as we drink it in, we know we’re going to need more…a LOT more!!
Picture from the Making of Music Video ‘Whiskey’
Thirteen tracks clocking in at 39+ minutes, these songs do indeed cover the gamut of all elements mentioned and there is not a sleeper in the bunch. Listing their influences as ranging from AC/DC to NIRVANA, from QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE to FAITH NO MORE and even going from PEARL JAM to PANTERA. These guys have no qualms about saluting their favorites and putting their own stamp on it at the same time, a hard thing for so many bands to do anymore. From ‘Color Of Red’ with an opening drum line that sounds straight out of MONTROSE‘s ‘Rock Candy’ before the pick slide down the guitar neck that marks the beginning of this tale of “Not love I see…” that rolls heavy and even to the ‘jangly opening guitar of ‘Devil’s Complaint’ with the lyrics of “What you need or you feel in this world of pain, all your gods and your dreams will not wash this rain.” The stage is set for this grunge sounding, stoner romp that is complete with an under-modulated guitar tone for the end section that will tickle the rock-fan in us all.
‘49.3’ begins with an engine rev before Usel’s vocal roars out with a fury equal to that 8-cylinder growl we started with and meet again halfway through and then roars past us at the end. ‘Punky Booster’ is true to the name with this pure-punk edged track, where ‘Grace’ is a slower-paced rocker that you can’t help but move to with it’s catchy hook before the pummeling drums and thunderous bass are back in your face with fills and heaviness galore showing they are a tight portion of this program and provide the perfect vehicle for ‘Seb and Seb’ to do their thing individually, while remaining cohesive in delivery.
‘Pigs In Paradise’ starts off with what could be any southern rock intro with it’s clean-ish guitar tone and tempo until the 1-minute mark when that stoner-feel hits back before we flow into that clean-ish guitar again, all under-flowing with Usel’s words. ‘Lonely Day’ is just busting with a SOUNDGARDEN vs FNM mentality and will rip your face off with the heavy as fuck melody and this off time cymbal tap that rings out in it’s half-muted glory. ‘Breathe’ is another faster romp that keeps it moving fast and hard.
‘Psycho Love’ Pts I & II did make me think of PANTERA‘s ‘Suicide Note’ pt I & II in that the structure is eerily similar, again I believe, in respect to an idol, and the vocal is clear and ringing over a beautiful acoustic progression that fits the mood and tempo perfectly and provoked images of standing with arms spread wide open in revealing from within with a sonic solo that makes your feet almost leave the ground following each note, and when pt-II hits the ground running, with a bass line deep and dark and brooding as those guitar notes keep calling out before the multi layer vocal signals the darkness gathering before the staccato guitar takes over the melody and the rage explodes into the mic again. Pure brilliance in arrangement and execution.
Standout track on this album for ME, and probably my favorite from these guys so far into their career, would have to be ‘Whiskey’. From the first notes, I felt like I was in somebody’s backyard down home here in the Southern USA listening to some good ole boys jamming and slamming away under the hanging branches swaying in a summer breeze while sipping some ‘shine and chasing that with some good ole Jack Daniels and when the bagpipes came in, all AC/DC-KORN in tone/feel, it was a perfect fit, each member given their three-second-solo bit at the bridge, and then back to the Southern-Slam this song is. Like I had stated earlier, I can not get enough of this one, and there is no slaking this ‘thirst’, even while I am drinking it down, in any other manner but to play it again and even LOUDER!!
Taking their time and fine-tuning each song to get to this point and using some stellar production values, POSTE 942 is ready to rise up and shine. Get this album the second you can, play it repeatedly for anyone you can, support them live if they come anywhere near you and keep it LOUD!!
Outtakes From The Soul – CD (sold out) // DD – CD Baby
Self Released – 2015
Reviewed by Ric “Suisyko” Dorr
Location – Marietta, Ohio
Released in 2015, BROCK DAVISSON has poured his soul into each of these 9 tracks that offer insight into the man himself and over these 33+ minutes, we are given the chance to ‘see with his eyes’ through his fingers. When asked to describe himself, he stated “I’m 4’4″ tall in a wheelchair from club foot and dwarfism and my entire life purpose is music. Without it, I don’t exist.” He has won 3 ‘CA HOUSE MUSIC’ guitar competitions so far in Parkersburg, West Virginia, came in 2nd in few others, and has won a few online guitar/music contests as well.
Mixing dirty blues into out-right rock-n-roll and then shifting into flat-out instrumental-bliss, all mixing perfectly together in flow from the first notes of title track ‘Outtakes From The Soul’ to the closing section of closer ‘If Only’ with a pinnache and attention to detail that makes this album a must have. No two songs sound alike on this but the ‘touch’ on each is the same, from the core of his being and that shines with every note.
Two songs in particular stand out to ME, the first being instrumental ‘Vagrant’ with it’s slow blues fire smoldering with the clean-tone leads that permeate this heart-string-puller. Then there is ‘Tremors’ where we are reminded that “God is a safe-place to hide, ready to help when needed.” over a mid-tempo pace that allows Brock to demonstrate his mastery of his ‘over-the-neck’ technique that has been his method of playing all along. I have been blown away by how incredible each offering Brock puts out via his Facebook page and his YouTube channel is in originality and prowess. He has done things that are heavy as all get out to as soft as a kitten’s fur, ALL showing just what can be accomplished with dedication and love and his heart is open and poured deep into every crevice of every measure played.
WELL worth a revisit if you are already a fan, a MUST-HAVE for the rest of the world!! Get it NOW if you don’t already have it and share it with the rest of YOUR world and KEEP IT LOUD!!
MUSICIANS ON THIS ALBUM:
Brock Davisson “all tracks except track 9, only lyrics”
Andy Holbrook “track 2,3,4,5,6,7,8”
Courtney Holbrook “track 8”
Michael Francis “track 2,7”
Todd Schexnider “track 4,6”
Jeremy Harmon “track 2,4,5,6,7”
Daniel Everson “track 5”
Jeremy Mayle “track 9”
Robert Lawson “track 3”
Greg Lester “track 8”
Southern Louisiana’s even more southerner hard rockersVermilion Whiskey have just offered their latest batch of their finest distilled rock ‘n roll for our consumption. The band’s new Official Lyric Video for their track ‘Come Find Me‘ is fermented and aged with righteous riffery and intoxicating rhythms. With vocals drenched in soulful tones and intensely inflected emotion, the song is a fine representation of that inebriating elixer that is Vermilion Whiskey.
If you are so late to the party that you still have not picked up the band’s blues ‘n boozy collection of tunes on ‘Spirit Of Tradition‘ (out now!) then shame on you. It’s blue collar rock through and through as the fine example above, ‘Come Find Me‘, goes down so smoothly when consumed responsibly.
BLACKTOP MOJO Burn The Ships – Vinyl//CD//DD Cuhmon Records – Released March 10th, 2017 Reviewed By: Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker
Blacktop Mojoare a Texas-based band that are in their fifth year of sharing their heavily Southern-infused rock ‘n roll. That is despite their starting out on the music road that was trying to lead them into the country music realm originally. See, when the band first began gigging around their Tyler, TX. regional home, they were playing in mostly country music-themed venues and bars. By their own admission the band has revealed that they felt out of place, weren’t fitting in quite right and needed to make a change. Before long though opportunity came a’ knocking as it often does and soon Blacktop Mojo were sharing stages and tours with Sammy Hagar, Candlebox, Drowning Pool, Puddle Of Mudd, Smile Empty Soul, Audiotopsy and other similar bands.
Fast forward to now, in 2017 where Blacktop Mojo released their current full-length album, ‘Burn The Ships‘, back in March. The hype for the guys, singer Matt James, drummer Nathan Gillis, guitarist Ryan Kiefer, guitarist Kenneth Irwin and bassist Matt Curtis, has spilled over into the national spotlight and things are happening. One of those things is the fantastic hard Southern Rock heaviness of the aforementioned album, ‘Burn The Ships‘. With a thick backwoods groove anchoring things down, the music on the album is beyond incredible to say the least. Not to mention that producer Phillip Mosley (who also contributes a variety of instruments to select tracks) had assistance from the legendary Muscle Shoals Sound studios’ wizard, Jimmy Johnson and his right hand man, Steve Melton.
The ships ain’t the only thing burning here for ‘Burn The Ships‘ delivers thirteen tracks of boogie and blues-fused rock. With incendiary guitars permeating the airwaves along with super tight-knit rhythms, crafty drumming and abundant swagger, this is flat-out impressive music. From the swampy start to the first song ‘Where The Wind Blows‘, things explode in a flurry of heavy guitars and whiskey-drenched vocals. It is easy to understand why Blacktop Mojo were sticking out like a sore thumb at the country music spots, hell, just listen to the metallic edges of ‘End Of Days‘, title track ‘Burn The Ships‘ or the bruising intensity of ‘Sweat‘.
There’s a definite broad spectrum of styles and sounds explored on the album, ones where the band are as just as powerfully visceral albeit with melodic or lighter fare. Cuts like ‘Prodigal‘, ‘Shadows On The Wall‘, or the intriguing cover of Aerosmith’s ‘Dream On‘ allow the guys to stretch their musical legs and show us what all they can actually do. There is so much diversity present, such an inferno of creativity and talent that something is bound to appeal to almost anyone on some level or another. Don’t just take my word for it either because you can stream Blacktop Mojo‘s ‘Burn The Ships‘ in full via the Bandcamp embed below…I suggest you do so now.
Recommended If You Like: Black Stone Cherry, Monster Truck, Saving Abel