BLACKTOP MOJO – Under The Sun (Album)
Hailing from the small city of Palestine in the large state of Texas, BLACKTOP MOJO are a Hard Rock five-piece and ‘Under The Sun’ is their third full-length album, released today, September 13th (Friday the 13th Ooooooo…) via Sand Hill Records.
BLACKTOP MOJO offers up a solid, weighty style of Hard Rock with a large Grunge influence, a smattering of Blues Rock and, as you’d maybe expect from a Texan band, a dusty, Southern Rock feel. The mix and production of ‘Under The Sun’ is fantastic, it has a rich, warm sound that’s both thick and clear, each band member is audible and the pounding riffs thud home satisfactorily.
Vocalist Matt James has an impressive voice that suits their style well. At times he’s reminiscent of Chris Cornell, other times David Coverdale. He handles both low and high notes easily and is a definite plus in the band's list of assets.
‘Lay It On Me’ is a strong opening track with a fading, gradual intro before the main riff explodes. It’s a lively track with a cool melody in the verse and a memorable chorus. It’s about the time-honoured tradition, passed down from generation to generation, where the man has to try and guess why his girlfriend/wife is mad with him.
There are several more mid-paced rockers along the way, ‘Come Get Your Coat’ is a message to a one night stand who snuck out in the early hours. ‘All Mine Now’ is probably the paciest track on the album, it has an incessant, stomping riff and a simple but effective chorus. There are some nice harmonic guitars about halfway through from Ryan and Chuck. I like the short burst of acapella gang vocals that crop up in there too.
‘Keep’ is one of the highlights of the album. It’s built around a slow, chugging riff that’s half Alice In Chains, half Black Sabbath and things get interesting around the 3-minute mark when they pick up the tempo and go careering off for an excellent solo while they’re at it.
There are a handful of slower, balladic, songs on ‘Under The Sun’, the best of which is the Blues-driven ‘It Won’t Last’. The quiet, haunting verses are enhanced with some subtle organ that’s brilliantly effective and the lead guitar work in this one is absolutely stunning.
‘The Void’ combines sparse, acoustic-led verses with a crushing, anthemic chorus and a storming bridge section. The lead guitar is again very impressive too. I guess it’s about addiction and finding the strength to stop? In any case, it’s a dark, ominous-sounding song, though there’s the juxtaposition of a sense of hopeful determination present too.
The lead single from the album is ‘Can’t Sleep’ which is another power ballad type track, combining a suspenseful, introspective verse with a full-on, massive chorus. It’s easy to see why it was picked as the single as it’s both indicative of their sound but also the biggest, most memorable chorus on the album. It seems to be about someone keeping in a dark secret and the effort of doing so burning them up inside.
‘Under The Sun’ is a fine, well-performed and well-produced album and there’s nothing even approaching a bad song to be found. If I did have any criticism of it then it would be that all of the songs are of a pretty similar speed. ‘Lay It On Me’ is probably the fastest song on the album so every other song comes plodding along after it. ‘It Won’t Last’ is the softest track but still has some hefty guitars throughout too. This means all ten tracks hover around at roughly the same mid-tempo pacing so it does get a little bit samey towards the end. It’s a small criticism of an otherwise impressive album, however.
Lay It On Me
Set It Free
Come Get Your Coat
It Won’t Last
All Mine Now
The Lashing (Ghost)
Under The Sun
Blacktop Mojo are:
Matt James – Vocals
Ryan Kiefer – Guitar
Chuck Wepfer – Guitar
Matt Curtis – Bass
Nathan Gillis – Drums
Website – https://www.blacktopmojo.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/BlacktopMojo/
Bandcamp - https://blacktopmojo.bandcamp.com/releases