Hazmat Modine’s New LP Is One Of 2016’s Top New Blues Albums

Courtesy:  Barbes Records

Courtesy: Barbes Records

Ten years ago Hazmat Modine fist introduced itself to the world.  That introduction came in the form of the band’s 2006 debut record Bahamut.  Almost as much time passed between that record and the release of the band’s second album 2011’s Cicada.  Now five years after its release and lots of frequent flyer miles later—the band did quite a bit of touring over the course of its first decade—the wait has finally ended for the release of the group’s third album Extra-Deluxe-Supreme.  The ten-song record is a solid new record from the New York-based collective and an equally solid introduction for those that might be less familiar with the band’s body of work.  It is a record that mixes elements of blues and jazz for a nearly hour-long musical experience (51 minutes to be exact) that fans of both genres will enjoy.  This applies to audiences both familiar and not so familiar with the band’s body of work.

Hazmat Modine’s new album Extra-Deluxe-Supreme has been a long time coming.  That goes without saying.  It was released early this past June roughly five years after the release of the bands sophomore studio offering Cicada.  Five years is a very long time between albums in the music industry.  So to finally have the album released had to have been a load off of the band and its fans alike.  Listening through the record’s ten total songs, it can be said that the work and the wait were both well worth it.  One of the songs that supports that statement comes late in the album’s run in the form of ‘All of My Days.’  That is due both to the song’s musical arrangement and its lyrical content.  In regards to its musical content, the song boasts a sound that can most easily be compared to that of blues legend B.B. King.  Speaking even more specifically, it sounds like something that he would have composed alongside fellow blues great Eric Clapton for the duo’s 2000 record Riding With The King.  Interestingly enough the musical component sounds like King’s work while vocalist Wade Schuman sounds more like Clapton than King.  It makes for an interesting musical arrangement to say the very least.  That is meant in a positive manner, too.  Its musical arrangement is just part of what makes this song stand out among its counterparts.  Its lyrical content is just as important to note.  Schuman sings in this song about life in general.  He notes about doing one’s best even throughout life and being the best that one can be.  It would explain the upbeat, celebratory nature of the song’s musical arrangement.  Taking that into consideration the combination of both elements makes the song al the more enjoyable.  It serves just as much to point out what makes Hazmat Modine’s new record a standout offering from the band.  It is not the record’s only standout song, though.  ‘Arcadia (Coffee, Salt and Laces)’ is another song exhibiting what makes Extra-Deluxe-Supreme stand out.

‘All of My Days’ is by itself a clear example of what makes Hazmat Modine’s new album a standout recording.  The songs musical arrangement conjures thoughts of songs composed by Eric Clapton and B.B. King for the pair’s 2000 record ‘Riding With The King.’  The song’s positive lyrical content strengthens the song even more.  The two halves come together to make the song one whole that stands out clearly from its counterparts.  It is not the only song included in this record that stands out. ‘Arcadia (Coffee, Salt and Laces)’ is another of the record’s most standout songs.  This song was recorded in studio.  But there is a certain element about it that conjures thoughts of the dimly lit blues clubs and juke joints of the genre’s early days; those little joints that were so populous along the so-called “Chitlin Circuit.”  That is evident throughout the song’s musical arrangement and production.  Schuman’s gravelly vocal delivery adds even more to that image.  Listening through the song’s lyrical content, that slow, pure 12-bar blues style arrangement becomes even more understandable.  That is because Schuman comes across here a man singing about just wanting to be back home.  As he sings in the song’s chorus, “Well I got my ticket/Ready to go/Well I got my passport out/When this storm is over/When this time is out/I’ll see my sweet Arcadia/I’ll be back home with you.”  Through each verse, Schuman’s subject keeps singing about being back home.  So there’s no room for doubt about the song’s lyrical topic.  It works expertly with the song’s musical arrangement and vice versa.  The two elements together make ‘All of My Days’ stand out even more and show why this the album in whole stands out.  It is not the last of the songs featured in this record that serves to exemplify the record’s positives.  ‘Plans’ serves to make this record stand out just as much as ‘All of My Days’ and ‘Arcadia (Coffee, Salt and Laces).’

‘All of My Days’ an ‘Arcadia (Coffee, Salt and Laces)’ are both key examples of what makes Hazmat Modine’s new record a collection of songs that was well worth the wait.  That is due to the combination of their musical arrangements and their companion lyrical content.  The two elements compliment each other expertly in each song resulting in two songs that make this record stand on its own merits and stand out among other blues records released so far this year.  As important as they are in exhibiting this they are not the album’s only key compositions.  ‘Plans’ is one more composition showing just what makes this record so well worth the wait.  In regards to its musical arrangement, it stands out because of the comparison that can be made to songs composed by the likes of Doctor John.  That is clear especially in the use of the song’s brass elements.  What is really interesting is that Schuman somehow managed to even deliver a vocal performance very much in the vein of Doctor John.  The sound of his delivery is clearly differentiated from that of Doctor John.  By the stylistic approach is so similar that it is uncanny.  That coupled with the song’s instrumental arrangement makes the song’s overall musical arrangement a solid foundation for the song.  It is not the only important aspect to the song.  The song’s lyrical content is just as important to its presentation as its musical arrangement.  It sounds kind of funny, but the song’s lyrical content is actually rather bland yet somehow so catchy.  Schuman sings here about a man who…well…has plans.  He has certain things on his “to-do” list.  And it is not a shot list either.  He wants to organize his drawers at home, paint his mom’s house, settle some scores downtown, and lots more.  In other words, this is a busy man.  That urgent list of items matches up relatively well with the song’s equally upbeat tempo.  There is no sense of being overly urgent or busy.  But the music helps to illustrate just how much there is to do and the feeling of energy that the song’s subject has in examining his list of plans.  It’s just a fun, lighthearted song that will put a smile on any listener’s face and leave listeners tapping their feet in time.  It is a direct contrast to the likes of the previously noted compositions, too.  That makes it stand out even more.  In turn, it makes the record stand out even more against its counterparts in the blues counterparts.  That is even truer when it is set against the other, previously noted songs and the rest of the songs not noted here.  All things considered, Extra-Deluxe-Supreme proves in the end to be, in this critic’s view, one of 2016’s top new jazz and blues records.

Hazmat Modinee’s new album Extra-Deluxe-Supreme is one of 2016’s top new jazz and blues records.  The ten-song, fifty-one minute record shows from beginning to end that it deserves its spot on that list, too both through its musical arrangements and its lyrical content.  The musical arrangements are largely original but still show influences of the group’s more well-known counterparts at points through its counterparts.  The end result is a musical experience that any blues aficionado will enjoy.  The songs’ lyrical themes add even more to that enjoyment.  From the mundane (‘Plans’) to the more thoughtful ‘Arcadia (Coffee, Salt and Lace)’ to the truly deep (‘All of My Days’) and all points in between, this record offers just as much entertainment and insight in its lyrical content as it does in its musical arrangements.  All things considered, the album proves in the end to be a joy for any lover of the blues.  It is, again, one of 2016’s top new blues offerings.  And it is available now and can be ordered direct online via the band’s website at http://hazmatmodine.com/sound.  More information on Extra-Deluxe-Supreme is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news, tour updates and more at http://hazmatmodine.com.

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