Some say “if Soundgarden and Lynyrd Skynyrd were to take a roll in the hay, nine months later, out would pop Blacktop Mojo.” I say to whatever crazy twist of fate brought this Texas band into the world of rock and roll I am eternally grateful.
Blacktop Mojo is made up of Matt James (lead vocals), Ryan Kiefer (lead guitar/vocals), Kenneth Irwin (rhythm guitar/vocals), Nathan Gillis (drums), and Matt Curtis (bass). They formed in 2012, released their first self-released album, I Am, in 2014 and have toured the country with artists like Aaron Lewis, Saving Abel, and Puddle of Mudd. Last week they opened for Bon Jovi at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. On March 10 their sophomore album Burn the Ships will hit the music world and establish Blacktop Mojo as a force to be reckoned with in rock music.
Burn the Ships is a kick ass collection of rock jams that would appeal to fans of a variety of genres – traditional hard rock, steamy southern rock, and even mainstream top 40 rock. There are so many musical gems on this album from heart wrenching ballads to groovy dance tunes to unique solo contributions from every member of the band. James’ voice is like warm honey flowing over your senses. It’s deep, smooth, strong, and has just the right amount of gravel and growl when needed. The lyrics of all 13 songs invoke strong images and increase the connection to the melodies.
The album opens with “Where the Wind Blows” which is the perfect introduction to the Mojo vibe. Tracks like “End of Days”, “Sweat”, and “Chains” showcase the harder side of the band’s talent whereas ballads like “Prodigal” and “Underneath” pull the heartstrings and expose the musical and emotional range that Blacktop Mojo has to offer.
The title track, “Burn the Ships,” has some crazy cool solo bass moments that make your ribs shake and a badass “battle” between the guitars and the drums that make us feel the tension in the lyrics that call for us to “fight or die.” The debut single from the album, “Pyromaniac”, has a steady beat, sultry groove, and catchy lyrics. It’s a perfect song to please old fans and hook new ones.
Other noteworthy tracks include “Make a Difference” which is a great rock anthem with soft verses that crescendo into powerful choruses and make you want to take a stand for something…anything. “Dog on a Leash” has a steamy vibe that coaxes you to sway your hips and grind your ass to the beat. “8000 Lines” displays some interesting instrumentations including a soft, haunting bridge that slowly soars back into the intensity of the full-throttle jam.
While the original tracks on this CD are impressive, the highlight for me was the band’s remake of Aerosmith’s 1973 hit “Dream On.” This is one of my all-time favorite songs, and I had my doubts that Blacktop Mojo would do it justice. I stand corrected. James has no problem holding his own against the legendary Steven Tyler in the vocal performance of this classic. I might even like this version better than the original. It is a beautiful and brilliant remake.
Burn the Ships proves that Blacktop Mojo is a tight and talented band that will no doubt see their success explode once the world gets a taste of the tremendous musicality displayed throughout this album. They have several live shows scheduled for March – but unfortunately they are all in Texas. I’m hoping for tour dates to be added beyond the Lonestar state because I need to see these guys live. In the meantime…I’ll be buying Burn the Ships and learning all the lyrics so I can sing along when I’m in the crowd. I advise that you do the same.
Find more about Blacktop Mojo here…
Audio for Pyromaniac: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFjo1pWy6XA
Review by Cathy Moore