Hogjaw are a southern rock band hailing from Arizona. USA. Released on Snakefarm Records, ‘Way Down Yonder’ is their 6th album of stomping southern rock. Friends since high school, the cohesiveness and direction the band have taken is clear, from stomping beats to soaring gritty riffs, this band show how Southern rock should be done. One minute you are slogging through down and dirty southern blues then racing up the rapids with the pace and energy of rock and roll.
‘Back Home Today’ opens the album with clear influences of the Allman Brothers and ZZ Top but with added richness and complexity. Jonboat Jones’ voice has a power and richness, a depth that draws you in. A multi-tempo track, with a very clean guitar solo, and hugely catchy lyrics. A great start to the album.
‘The Hell With The Rest’ begins with a kick ass guitar, this has a guitar driven focus with Jones’ vocal bringing the melody. More crisp riffs and a sprinkling of dirty ones thrown in cleverly as the track develops. ‘Brown Water’ is more up-tempo with a distinctly country feel and a strong drum beat. With energy by the bucket full, the guitars drive the track together with bourbon-soaked vocals, they bring the track to life painting pictures of Saloons and gun-slinging in your mind. Dual guitars add more depth and the drum beats don’t stop plus a great singalong chorus will make this a live favourite with fans I’m sure.
‘North Carolina Way’ has a more relaxed opening before hitting the power at the chorus. We are definitely back to the Southern Rock with big vocals lifting along with soaring, grimy riffs. The fullness of the music, filled out with guitars and vocals is rather wonderful. ‘Way Down Yonder’, the title track, is another guitar fuelled massiveness of music and vocals. A winning combination of hard rock snarling guitars, fast paced rhythmic drumming and a vocal refrain that delivers a fast paced hoe-down style section that adds to the complexity of this track, demonstrating just how good this band is. An acapella section complete with hand claps – there is just so much going on in this song it’s unreal. A great end once the music finishes!
‘Dark Horse’ has a darker sound with growling, fuzzy guitars. It is only the tone of the vocal which gives the southern feel to this rock track. ‘Redemption’ has a light guitar opening which evolves and grows with the power of the vocal. A stand out clean riff reverberates through your ears before the richness of Jones’ voice full of emotion and the dirty guitars fill out the track. Layers of harmonies and an intricate guitar solo add even more to one of the best tracks on the album.
‘Got A Pencil’ brings us back to the southern feel. Again the track has so much going on from machine gun fast drumming, snarling riffs, clear licks, and sliding solos; it’s a splendid demonstration of how a guitar can change the vibe of a track in an instant. ‘Never Surrender’ is straight in with loud and aggressive guitars. It’s a hard and heavy track, but yet again it contains surprises with added spoken vocals, repeated riffs drawing you into the music and hitting you in both ears with some serious style and swagger.
‘Beast of Burden’ hang on a minute…that’s the opening Stargazer riff (RAINBOW). Explain yourselves guys! I struggle when something so iconic is clearly used in another track. It does develop into their own song so some could say it was paying rock homage to one of the most kick ass riffs ever, but you could also argue that it was just not necessary as the track itself is good once you get past the riff.
The final track of the album is a real bluegrass/country song. ‘Talk About Fishin’ with twanging guitars and an altogether different vibe to the rest of the album. Not sure what they wanted from adding this in other than a bit of fun.
On a whole I enjoyed the album. Not what I expected at all but turn it up and listen and there are layers of clever musicianship – a rich tone to the vocals which have me wanting to go and check out the bands back catalogue. Yes, the last couple of the tracks weren’t as good for me but on a whole, a damn fine album – pour yourself a JD and sit back and listen.
Jonboat Jones - Lead vocals and Guitar
Jimmy Rose - Lead Guitar
Elvis DD - Bass
Kwall - Drums
Check out their forthcoming tour dates on