The wait is officially over. Black Stone Cherry’s new album, Family Tree is finally here, and it is another interesting offering from the Edmonton, Kentucky-based band, both musically and lyrically. That is because on this, the band’s sixth full-length studio recording, the veteran Edmonton, KY-based band has returned to the blues rock sound that made it a household name throughout the better part of its life. That should make those left uncomfortable by the band’s fifth album Kentucky (its Mascot Records debut) happy. Of course that is not to discount Kentucky, as it was its own impressive effort especially being a risk by the band. As a matter of fact, it was a nice change of pace from the band, and hopefully not the only chance that the band will ever take. Getting back on the topic at hand, this album, even with its familiar musical and lyrical themes, takes its own risks that pay off in their own right. ‘Carry Me On Down The Road’ is one of those risks. It will be discussed shortly. ‘My Last Breath,’ another chance taken by the band this time out that pays off in its own right. It will be discussed later. It’s not the last of the risks taken this time out. ‘James Brown,’ which comes later in the album’s run, is another risk that pays off. Between these songs and the album’s other more familiar works, the album in whole proves to have plenty for audiences to appreciate. Keeping that in mind, Family Tree proves to be another solid, enjoyable effort from Black Stone Cherry.
Black Stone Cherry’s sixth full-length studio recording (its second album and third overall recording for Mascot Records) is another solid, enjoyable offering for the veteran southern rock outfit. That is because for all of the familiarity that the album offers audiences, it also doesn’t fail to take its own risks once again, as is evidenced early on in ‘Carry Me On Down The Road.’ This song, lyrically, is its own familiar territory for audiences across the board. It’s one of those songs about a rambler; someone who spends so much of his/her life on the road. The thing with those songs is that they are so often overly sappy pieces thanks to their musical arrangements. Black Stone Cherry didn’t go that route here. Instead, the band opted for a more positive, light-hearted approach a la The Allman Brothers Band’s ‘Ramblin’ Man,’ only a little heavier. That positive musical approach makes the song’s lyrical theme, which is itself quite similar to that song and so many others, that much more enjoyable. That familiarity comes as front man Chris Robertson sings, “I was born for leaving/It’s just what I do/And my feet don’t sleep/’Cause they stay on the move/There’s no deceivin’/Ain’t no master plan/I’m a keep, keep keeping on/I’m a travelin’ man/Hold on/I got wheels that can’t be stopped/I gotta ramble, ramble on/Roll on/Peaceful feelin’ in my soul/Carry me on down that road.” He goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, “Said listen people/I’ve got something to say/I’ve been around the world/It took 42 days/And I met 10,000/And I ran 10,000 miles/To be with ya’ll this evening…oh lord/I got wheels that can’t be stopped/I gotta ramble, ramble on/Oh lord, peaceful feelin’ in my soul/Carry me on down that road.” Again, there is a lot of similarity here both lyrically and musically between this song and the noted Allman Brothers Band song. The fact that this song uses the prior work as inspiration rather than blatantly ripping it off makes it plenty enjoyable. That it opts for that more light-hearted approach instead of the sappier approach that it easily could have taken adds even more to its enjoyment. Keeping all of this in mind, this upbeat blues rock opus about a traveling man, a ramblin’ man, proves to be its own enjoyable entry this time out. It’s a risk because the band opted to go happy instead of sappy, and one that paid off because of that. It’s just one of the risks that paid off in this album. ‘My Last Breath’ is another risk that paid off for the band this time out.
‘My Last Breath’ comes immediately after ‘Carry Me On Down The Road’ in the album’s sequence. Musically speaking, its arrangement is another ballad, which in itself is nothing new for Black Stone Cherry. The band has included at least one ballad in each of its past five records. What makes it stand out here is that, as with ‘Carry Me On Down The Road,’ is that while it does boast a certain emotional depth (thanks to its musical arrangement), that depth isn’t as over the top as in the band’s previous ballads. It’s another nice change of pace even with its familiarity. This song’s arrangement is centered on a gentle, flowing organ line that when coupled with Robertson’s vocal delivery conjures thoughts of Ben Harper (believe it or not). That influence sticks throughout the course of the song. The addition of the choral element to the song gives it a little gospel feel that only strengthens the song that much more. Between those elements and the slight bluesy Derek Trucks Band influence that is also audible here, the song’s musical arrangement here makes this ballad a risk from the band that paid off in its own right. Considering that the song pays homage to the subject’s loved ones – from a wife/gf to family in general — that controlled emotion here makes the risk taken all the more of a payoff. It’s just one more of the risks that paid off here. The funky blues rock arrangement of ‘James Brown’ is another risk that paid off.
The arrangement at the center of ‘James Brown’ is, as noted, a rock arrangement, but also boasts a certain funk influence in its whole, too. It goes without saying that it’s instantly infectious, and in this critic’s ears, deserves to be one of this album’s singles. Its lyrical content rests atop that musical content, proving even more the song’s strength. Robertson sings in the song’s lead verse, “Good time to write a rhyme to reach ya/It’s a new procedure/Need a soul to preach to/give me a soul to preach to/Don’t want but you know I need it/’Cause I only feed instead of tryin’ to beat it/I end up defeated/Well lemme talk at ya/Hot damn, you know just like magic/So hip that it’s tragic/Heartbreaker/Got me a-ramblin’/Like I’ve been time travelin’/You got me just like James Brown.” From here, he goes on to note that the woman being addressed here is “the 8th wonder” and he’s “the hunter”, basically excited over this woman. It’s an interesting song that is heightened even more through that playful, funky arrangement. When the two elements are joined together, they make this composition a work that was well worth the risk as they definitely stand out as another sign of the band’s growth. Keeping that in mind, it’s just one more way in which Family Tree shows its strength and appeal, but hardly the last. ‘Southern Fried Saturday Night’ stands easily on its own merits with its southern rock arrangement and fun-filled lyrical content paying homage to all things southern. In all honesty, this song is just as much a fit on mainstream rock radio as on today’s modern country playlists. On another level, the Joe Satriani-esque break included in the arrangement in ‘Bad Habit’ adds to its interest, as it’s another interesting change of pace that shows even more the band’s growth. There’s even a real quick Peter Gunn style riff included about two-minutes into ‘Burnin’ along with a subtle 80s hair rock style riff that adds to its interest. These elements, and so many more throughout the record go a long way, collectively, toward showing why Family Tree is another successful entry from Black Stone Cherry. All things considered, they make Family Tree a record that will impress the band’s long-time fans just as much as its new audiences and deserves a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new rock records.
It goes without saying after hearing Family Tree all the way through that it deserves a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new rock records. That is proven in the southern rock roots and new growth exhibited throughout the record’s 13-song, 52-minute run time. That growth is exhibited just as much through ‘Carry Me On Down The Road,’ ‘My Last Breath’ and ‘James Brown’ as through ‘Bad Habit’ and ‘Burnin.’’ The band’s southern rock roots are clearly exhibited throughout the rest of the record. The combination of that growth and connection to the past proves Family Tree to be another successful entry from start to finish, and in turn a record that will appeal to audiences across the board. Family Tree is available now in stores and online. More information on Family Tree is available online now along with all of Black Stone Cherry’s latest news at:
The wait for Black Stone Cherry’s new album Family Tree is now at only one day. The much-anticipated 13-song album will be the band’s second full-length studio recording for Mascot Records and its third overall recording for the label. The second of the band’s recordings came last year in the form of the six-song blues covers EP Black To Blues. It is the focus of today’s review, as anticipation builds for Family Tree. Those who are familiar with Black Stone Cherry’s body of work know that this veteran Kentucky-based rock band’s music is very deeply rooted in the blues. So it comes as no surprise that the band released this collection. The only real surprise is that it is only a six-song record instead of a full-length EP. The record’s song choices (and their associated artists) are, collectively speaking, one of its key high points. They will be discussed shortly. The songs’ arrangements are important to the EP’s whole, too. The historical significance of the EP rounds out its most important elements. Each element is important in its own right to the EP’s presentation. All things considered, they make Black To Blues another welcome offering from Black Stone Cherry, and one that will hopefully one day be followed by a more pure blues cover from the band
Black Stone Cherry’s 2017 EP Black To Blues is an interesting new compilation of songs from the veteran Kentucky-based blues rock band. That is not because it is a collection of blues covers, but in part because of the songs selected for the 6-song EP. The songs are classics crafted by some of the greatest names in blues history – Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, Albert King, and the creative team of Don Nix, Donald Dunn and Leon Russell.
‘Built For Comfort,’ originally composed by blues legend Willie Dixon, is considered by critics and audiences alike to be one of Dixon’s best compositions. Along with Muddy Waters (a.k.a. McKinley Morganfield), Dixon is one of two of the key figures in the formation of the Chicago blues.
Speaking of Muddy Waters, his song ‘Champagne and Reefer’ fittingly follows Dixon’s Built For Comfort.’ What many might not know of Waters’ works is that a large number were in fact written and composed by Dixon. This song however, was a rarity because it was written and composed entirely by Waters. Just as interesting to note of the original is it was included in what would go on to become Waters’ final album before his death in 1983, King Bee. Considering this, it’s fitting that such a strong composition would be included in Waters’ final musical statement.
‘Born Under A Bad Sign,’ another of the compilation’s key entries, is its own well-known work. Inducted into the Blues Hall Of Fame in 1983, the song has since gone on to be considered by most to be King’s signature composition. No doubt that is thanks in part to William Bell’s lyrics, which have proven to have just as much widespread appeal as its musical arrangement which has reached rock and r&b fans just as much as blues fans. It’s just one more example of why the songs included in this recording are so critical to the EP’s overall presentation. ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’ and ‘I Want To Be Loved,’ two more of Dixon’s hits prove to be just as entertaining here as the songs more directly noted. Much the same can be said of ‘Palace of the King,’ originally composed by the writing team of Don Nix, Donald Dunn and Leon Russell. That song was made famous by Freddie King, who is considered one of the “Three Kings” of the Blues. When those songs are considered and researched along with the songs more fully discussed here, it becomes clear why the songs featured in this record are so critical to its presentation. As important as they are, they are not, collectively speaking, the EP’s only key element. The songs’ arrangements are just as important to discuss as the songs and their artists.
It goes without saying here that the band has given these blues standards quite the new identity with its arrangements. Case in point is the hard rock/blues arrangement of Willie Dixon’s ‘Built For Comfort.’ Dixon’s original composition is an upbeat, easily danceable work. BSC’s rendition is, by comparison far more familiar to its fans, stylistically than it might be to fans of Dixon’s original. That’s not to say that BSC’s take is a bad take. It just gives the song a new identity for a new generation; an identity that is still just as appealing in its own right as Dixon’s original. Much the same can be said of BSC’s take on Muddy Waters’ ‘Champagne and Reefer.’ The band’s take of this blues standard is a complete re-imagining of Waters’ original, yet proves in its heavy, blues-soaked rock sound, to still be entertaining in its own right. The band’s re-working of ‘Palace of the King’ changes things up here by actually largely staying true to its source material while still giving the song a solid update. ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’ proves to be one of the record’s most standout additions thanks to the band sticking to the original song’s 12-bar blues format. One could even go so far as to argue that this take is even better than the original thanks to the hard rock element added to that link back to Willie Dixon’s original. That standout offering is followed by another equally solid arrangement in the band’s take of ‘Born Under A Bad Sign,’ which stays perhaps closest to its source material of any of this record’s songs. To say that it’s infectious would be an understatement with its blues rock arrangement; an arrangement which even way back when was credited with making the Albert King’s original such a widespread hit. The band impresses one more time in the EP’s closer with its take of Wilie Dixon’s ‘I Want To Be Loved,’ which was originally made famous by his longtime friend Muddy Waters. It is a little amped up in comparison to that original, but again, it largely stays true to the source material, right down to the horns. The result of that devotion to the original is a work that is not only a solid closer for this record, but another song sure to be a hit among audiences of all ages. It should be clear by now why the arrangements of the songs in this record are so pivotal to its presentation. Some stay true to their source material while others completely re-imagine the songs. Even in those re-imaginings, the songs still prove to be solid blues rock pieces that stay true to BSC’s own blues rock style. Keeping that in mind, all of the arrangements presented here prove enjoyable in one way or another throughout, thus making the record in whole that much more enjoyable. Of course this still is not the last of the EP’s most important elements. Its historical value is also of note.
Black to Blues’ historical value is so important to discuss in examining this EP because of the doors that the EP can open through its songs and their arrangements. One could easily argue that there’s no importance to this record, but the reality is that without this record, younger audiences who might otherwise pay no attention at all to the history and importance of blues itself, get a good start. That door is opened through discussions on the songs featured here, their source material and their artists. Being that this record is only a six-song record, it greatly limits the artists and songs, but maybe in generating new interest through those songs, those same younger listeners will hopefully be moved to discover even more of the many artists and songs that make the blues’ history so rich. Keeping this in mind, the historical value of Black To Blues cannot be ignored in considering the EP’s overall presentation. It is just as critical as the EPs songs (and artists) and the songs’ arrangements. That being the case, the whole of the noted elements makes Black To Blues another solid effort from Black Stone Cherry; a recording that leaves listeners hoping one day the band will release a pure blues covers record instead of a collection of amped up covers. Until or unless that happens, the works presented here will have to suffice. That’s not an entirely bad thing, either. Black to Blues is available now in stores and online. More information on the EP is available online now along with all of Black Stone Cherry’s latest news and more at:
The wait is almost over for Black Stone Cherry’s return. The veteran Kentucky-based blues-rock based band returns this Friday with its sixth full-length studio recording, Family Tree. Before that album hits stores, this critic is going to take a look back at some of the band’s most recent releases, beginning today with the band’s most recent album, 2016’s Kentucky. Originally released April 1, 2016 via Mascot records, the album was the band’s debut for Mascot Records. Its previous four albums up to that point had been released via Roadrunner Records. It is also one of the band’s most important albums to date because of the growth that it displays throughout the course of its 13-song, 52-minute body. That growth is evident in arrangements that audibly move away from the band’s familiar southern rock sound in favor of a heavier sound a la Alter Bridge and other similar bands as well as its lyrical themes. This change is clear right from the album’s outset in ‘The Way Of The Future,’ which will be discussed shortly. The band’s cover of Edwin Starr’s ‘War’ is another example of that growth. It will be discussed later. ‘Feelin’ Fuzzy,’ with its infectious hooks and choruses is yet another example of the growth presented in this record. Of course, for all of the growth shown throughout the album, there are still some hints of the band’s prior works here such as in the gentle album closer ‘The Rambler,’ ‘Long Ride’ and ‘Cheaper To Drink Alone.’ Those songs will appeal to the band’s more seasoned audiences while the newer (at the time) sound presented throughout will reach an even wider swath of listeners. Between all of those works and those not noted here, the whole of Kentucky proves to be a record that is not only the band’s most important album to date (at that point), but one of its best albums to date.
Black Stone Cherry’s 2016 album Kentucky is one of the band’s most important and best albums to date. That is because it proves to have been a creative turning point for the band. In place of the familiar southern rock fare which audiences had come to know from the band up to that point are harder-edged composition more akin to the likes of Alter Bridge than Lynyrd Skynyrd. The album’s lyrical themes are deeper, too. The album’s opener, ‘The Way of the Future’ is one of the examples of those changes that made the album so impressive. The song’s musical arrangement starts off with a heavy, grinding, almost Black Label Society style riff from guitarist Ben Wells that goes on to form the foundation of the arrangement. John Fred Young’s solid time keeping in the mid-tempo rocker, coupled with Jon Lawhon’s bass line strengthens that foundation even more. Front man Chris Robertson’s powerhouse vocal delivery of the song’s socially conscious lyrics puts the finishing touch to the song’s arrangement. Speaking of those lyrics, they do their own part in making this song so strong. Robertson sings in the song’s lead verse, “Wake up/Hope ya don’t get shot/Step out/Hope ya don’t get robbed/There’s children killin’ their selves/Who killed whom else for killing ourselves/Watch out/Devil’s gotta get rich/Better stop fallin’ for these tricks/We’re all killing ourselves/Who killed whom else for killing ourselves/It’s the way of the future/There’s no place to hide/You promise to listen/I’ll promise you life/though these perfect politicians/They’re smothered in grease/It’s the way of the future that don’t work for me/Take back control/Fight for your soul.” This verse leaves little to no question as to its message. It’s a commentary on the current state of the world. Given, this is hardly the first time that a band or act of any genre has gone down that road, but even considering that, it’s still a strong statement thanks to the way in which it is worded. Robertson doesn’t stop here with his scathing indictment, either. He goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, “Hang on, let’s all get offended/Keep on poisoning the system/There’s just wrong and there’s right/No black and no white/No right in this fight/Throw away everything you’ve been told to believe/Break away from these chains/We’re supposed to be free/Yeah, free.” Again, little to no doubt is left here. This is the song’s subject addressing how far the world has fallen from where it once was, with everyone getting offended about everything and refusing to see the shades of grey in life. It’s a harsh, yet true statement. The power in the song’s musical arrangement couples with that strong, scathing indictment of society’s descent to make this song one that is certain to resonate with listeners. Keeping this in mind, it makes sense why it was chosen to open the album. It is a bold statement about the direction that the band took on this album, and only the first. The band’s cover of Edwin Starr’s ‘War’ is an equally bold statement about the band’s direction this time out.
Black Stone Cherry’s cover of Edwin Starr’s 1970 hit single ‘War’ is another important addition to Kentucky because it shows just as much in its own way the new direction that the band took on this album. It perfectly compliments the album’s opener because it, too is a social commentary as well as a protest. Comparing this version to Starr’s original and even to the re-imagined take that Bone Thugs-N-Harmondy did with Henry Rollins, Flea and Tom Morello, BSC’s take is honestly the best take on the song to come along in quite a while. That is because it largely stays true to the source material while also giving the song a nice, new update, musically speaking. The addition of the saxophone and trumpet line to BSC’s arrangement is a nice new touch because of their subtlety. Robertson’s vocal delivery is also just as strong as Starr’s was in the song’s original take almost five decades ago. That’s saying a lot. Add in the fact that the band didn’t try to add any new lyrics to the song in this take – unlike in the aforementioned 1998 super group take included in the Small Soldiers soundtrack – and the song becomes even stronger in its presentation. The coupling of the song’s updated arrangement that still stays true to its source material and lyrical content that also stays true to the original makes this song one more of the album’s highest points. It shows once more the band’s growth in this album, and in turn why this album is, two years later, still among Black Stone Cherry’s most important and best albums to date. Even with all of this in mind, the band’s cover of ‘War’ is not the last of the album’s high points. ‘Feelin’ Fuzzy’ is one more example of what makes Kentucky such a standout offering from Black Stone Cherry.
‘Feelin’ Fuzzy’ is an important addition to Kentucky in part because of its musical arrangement. What’s interesting to note here is that a close listen to the arrangement reveals at least some hint of the band’s southern rock roots. At the same time, the solid, hard rock leanings that are so much more prevalent throughout the album is just as obvious. What audiences will appreciate here is the balance of the old and new. It shows that the band didn’t want to alienate its established fan base, but also wanted to once again show the growth that is evidenced throughout the rest of the album’s run. The band is to be commended for that thought and effort, as it clearly paid off in the song’s arrangement. Looking at the song’s lyrical content, this song shows just as much growth here. Robertson sings in the song’s lead verse, “Took a trip and might’ve slipped and fell into a hole/Might be magic/Might be tragic/The way this all unfolds/I’m feelin’ fuzzy/Spinning around/The trees keep laughing while they hit the ground/They know something we don’t/Feelin’ fuzzy/Spinning around.” He goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, “Took a sip and burned my lips/But love the way you taste/Catch the habit, gotta have it/If we’re gonna escape/Things you’re fearing disappearing/Never seen before/House of reasons fall to pieces/A new king is born.” Even this critic is at a loss for interpretation here. On one hand, one would assume this is perhaps a lyrical illustration of the song’s subject going through the effects of drugs and/or alcohol. That is inferred as Robertson sings through the chorus, “I’m feelin’ fuzzy/Spinning around/The trees keep laughing while they hit the ground/They know something we don’t.” The seeming Alice in Wonderland reference in the lead verse adds even more interest here. Between that and the wording in the song’s second verse, it almost seems as the song’s subject is singing about life changing, and is doing so through deep metaphorical language. Of course this could be a completely incorrect interpretation. Either way, it is certain to generate plenty of discussion, if it hasn’t already done so since the album’s initial release. Keeping this in mind, the whole of this song – joined with the whole of the other discussed songs and those not directly noted here – makes Kentucky a “rock” solid (yes, this critic went there) record from Black Stone Cherry and one of the band’s best and most important offerings to date.
Black Stone Cherry’s 2016 album Kentucky is one of the veteran band’s best and most important albums to date. That is evidenced from start to end of the 13-song, 52-minute record’s body in the record’s hard rock-styled musical arrangements and content heavy lyrical themes. From the heavy social commentary of ‘The Way of the Future’ and its equally heavy musical arrangement to the equally musically and lyrically heavy cover of ‘War’ that stays largely true to its source material to the extremely heavy and deep content in ‘Feelin’ Fuzzy,’ there is plenty of example of what makes this record stand out. Add in the depth of ‘The Rambler,’ ‘Long Ride,’ ‘Cheaper To Drink Alone’ and the rest of the album’s offerings, and audiences get in whole here a record that stands tall among its current offerings. It proves in whole through its overall musical and lyrical content to be – once more – one of Black Stone Cherry’s best and most important albums to date. It is available now in stores and online. More information on Kentucky is available online now along with all of Black Stone Cherry’s latest news at:
Black Stone Cherry has a very special gift for its fans as everyone counts down to the release of its new album Family Tree.
The band has made available for sale 49 signed test copies of Family Tree on vinyl. Test copies are used to check the sound quality of an album before it is officially released on vinyl. More often than not, very few test copies of any album are ever made. in this case, Mascot label pressed 49 test copies of the album.
The records will go on sale Thursday, April 12 at 1 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CET. Originally, 53 test copies of the album were pressed, but the band grabbed four of those copies, leaving only 49 copies available. The band explains in the video below.
Courtesy: Mascot Label Group
Only 1 copy can be purchased per order. It will be available at a cost of EUR 99.99 ($123.69 USD) and is signed by each member of the band. Orders can be placed here once the site goes live. The link will only go live once the sale officially starts.
More information on this is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:
Black Stone Cherry is giving audiences another taste of its new album, Family Tree.
The band on Monday, unveiled the video for its new single ‘Bad Habit.’ The song is the album’s second single. The video takes audiences back in time to 1988 and a competition of three very different bands.
What happens before, during and after the battle of the bands will put a smile on audiences’ faces just as much as the song itself. There’s even a surprise homage to the classic sci-fi flick Back To The Future included in the video. The video is streaming online now here.
Family Tree will be released April 20 via Mascot Records. The band will launch a tour in support of the album April 18 in Bethlehem, PA. The extensive spring/summer tour is currently scheduled to run through May 27 in Madison, WI. From there, the band will take off the month of June before heading back out on the road for a pair of dates on July 21 and July 27 in Morristown, OH and Trenton, MO respectively.
The band’s current tour schedule is noted below.
Wed, Apr 18 Sands Bethlehem – Bethlehem, PA Thu, Apr 19 Warner Theater – Erie, PA Fri, Apr 20 Landmark Theater – Syracuse, NY Sat, Apr 21 Hippodrome – Baltimore, MD Sun, Apr 22 The Clay Center – Charleston, WV Tue, Apr 24 Phase 2 Club, Lynchburg, VA Thu, Apr 26 The Palace Theater – Albany, NY Fri, Apr 27 Wally’s Pub – Hampton, NH Sat, Apr 28 The Queen – Wilmington, DE Mon, Apr 30 Capones – Johnson City, TN Wed, May 2 Von Braun – Huntsville, AL Thu, May 3 Saenger Theater Mobile – Mobile, AL Fri, May 4 Scout Bar – Houston, TX Sat, May 5 Trees – Dallas, TX Mon, May 7 Templelive – Fort Smith, AR Tue, May 8 Madrid Theatre – Kansas City, MO Thu, May 10 Pop’s Nightclub – Sauget, IL Fri, May 11 Bourbon Theatre – Lincoln, NE Sat, May 12 Somerset Amphitheater – Somerset, WI Mon, May 14 The Apollo Theatre – Belvidere, IL Wed, May 16 Ground Zero – Traverse City, IL Thu, May 17 The Machine Shop – Flint, MI Fri, May 18 Manchester Music Hall – Lexington, KY Fri, May 25 Mercury Ballroom – Louisville, KY Sat, May 26 The Shed – Maryville, TN Sun, May 27 Alliant Energy Center – Madison, WI Sat, Jul 21 Jamboree in the Hills – Morristown, OH Fri, Jul 27 Black Silo Winery – Trenton, MO
More information on Black Stone Cherry’s new video and tour schedule is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:
A little more than a month ago, a little band by the name of Paul Johnson & The About Last Nights released its debut EP Give Up The Ghost. The five track record is the type of presentation that shows how easily today’s unsigned band could be tomorrow’s next big mainstream hit. It shows this through the diversity in its musical arrangements and the depth of its collective lyrical content. From the infectious southern rock riffs and happy-go-lucky lyrics of ‘Hollywood’ to the Foo Fighters-esque arrangement and equally playful lyrics of ‘American Story (Adrenaline)’ to the Jimmy Eat World style arrangement and thoughtful lyrics of ‘Burn It Down’ and beyond, this record is a solid start for Paul Johnson & The About Last Nights. It is a record that leaves listeners hoping this band won’t give up the ghost any time soon.
Paul Johnson & The About Last Night’s debut EP Give Up The Ghost is a strong start for the Mississippi-based unsigned rock outfit. That is due to the solid mix of musical genres on which the band touches over the course of the record’s five-song, 18-minute run and its lyrical content. The record’s penultimate song ‘Hollywood’ is just one of the songs included in this record that supports that statement. The song’s guitar-driven musical arrangement is easily likened to arrangements composed by Black Stone Cherry, Buckcherry, The Black Crowes and other similar acts. Band namesake and vocalist Paul Johnson even conjures thoughts of Buckcherry front man Josh Todd (at least in this critic’s ears) through his vocal delivery here. When that is set alongside the amalgam of musical influences evident in the song’s arrangement, it makes the arrangement instantly infectious and certain to be a fan favorite.
The song’s musical arrangement is only one part of what makes it notable. Its lyrical content, like its musical arrangement also conjures thoughts of the aforementioned acts and will put a smile on any listener’s face with its tribute to all of the things that make the south great. That tribute is evident as Johnson sings, “You know I like to see my toes in the sand/You couldn’t drag me away from Dixieland/Kinda got the feeling you won’t/Just take another breath/Don’t/Don’t take me to Hollywood/Keep me in the south where the weather is good/Southern girls doin’ like they should/Don’t take me/Don’t take me to Hollywood.” He goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, “I always see how they like to put us down/Don’t really care for the big town/Kinda got the feeling you won’t/Just take another breath/Don’t/Don’t take me to Hollywood.” Plain and simple, this is a tribute to the band’s home state and region, being that the band is from Hattiesburg, Mississippi. That upbeat, playful tribute, when coupled with the song’s musical arrangement makes the song in whole one of the record’s best offerings if not its best. Collectively, they make this song a clear example of what makes Give Up The Ghost such a standout offering and solid start from Paul Johnson & The About Last Nights. It is only one of the songs that serves to support these statements. ‘American Story (Adrenaline)’ is another song that shows why this record stands out.
‘Hollywood’ with its simple title, lyrical content and musical approach is a clear example of what makes Give Up The Ghost a solid first effort from Paul Johnson & The About Last Nights. It musical arrangement and lyrical alike are both so infectious thanks to their simplicity. As impressive as it is, it is only one of the songs included in this record that makes the EP stand out. ‘American Story (Adrenaline)’ is another example of what makes this record worth hearing. As with ‘Hollywood,’ that is due in part to the song’s musical arrangement. The alignment of the song’s guitar and keyboards couples with Johnson’s vocal delivery to instantly conjure thoughts of Foo Fighters. Drummer Zach Lewis’ time keeping adds to that comparison even more. From start to finish, the song’s arrangement easily keeps listeners engaged. It is only one part of what makes the song so enjoyable. The song’s lyrical content is just as important to note as its musical arrangement.
Unlike the lyrical theme presented in ‘Hollywood,’ this song’s lyrical theme clearly centers on a woman. That is inferred easily in the song’s chorus in which Johnson and his band mates sing, “She’s in love/With a fast car/Burn out…./She’s a new American story…little worry. Deciphering the full extent of the words is difficult without lyrics to which one can refer. However, between this and other elements that can be deciphered, it becomes clear that Johnson and company are singing about a woman. That is especially certified in the song’s final moments as the band sings in unison, “She keeps my fantasies alive” All things considered it is clear that the band is paying tribute to a woman or a certain type of woman. It stands completely apart from the theme of ‘Hollywood’ and the rest of the record’s songs, and is just as upbeat as those other themes. Keeping that in mind, when this tribute is set alongside the song’s equally upbeat musical arrangement, the pairing makes the song in whole stand solidly on its own merits; merits that make the song yet another example of what makes the EP such a surprise. It is not the last of the songs that stands out on the record either. ‘Burn It Down’ is notable, too.
‘Hollywood’ and ‘American Story (Adrenaline)’ both show in their own way that Give Up The Ghost is one of this year’s top new EPs. The songs’ musical arrangements and lyrical themes stand out from one another just as much as they do the record’s other featured songs. As much as they stand out, they are not its only key compositions. ‘Burn It Down’ is one more of the record’s key songs. As with the previously discussed songs, that is due in part to the song’s arrangement. This time around, listeners minds will go to Jimmy Eat World in listening to this arrangement right from the song’s outset. This critic easily could be wrong, but the song’s lyrical content seems like a coming-of-age story of sorts. That is inferred as Johnson sings in the song’s lead verse, “I dropped out of school to find my way/A dirty kid in football games/A loser on the street/Had a hunger for the underneath/A family divorced too much to bear/The misinformed will meet you there/Like the liars and the delphines/Is there nothing left for a kid to believe…the pain of knowing I may never feel better off than where I started.” The story continues in the song’s second verse and ends with a mention of a “21-gun salute to disobey” in the finale. The song’s chorus, in which the song’s subject seemingly looks back on the past in another way, adds even more depth to the song. When this is all considered along with the song’s musical arrangement, the whole of the song’s musical and lyrical content makes fully clear why this song stands out. Collectively, the depth of that musical and lyrical content—and its distinct identity separate from ‘Hollywood,’ ‘American Story (Adrenaline)’ and the record’s other two songs—shows even more why the EP in whole stands out, too. When it is joined with all of the EP’s other offerings, the record in whole proves, once more, why it is one of this year’s top new EPs, an equally solid start for Paul Johnson & The About Last Nights, and a record that will leave listeners hoping the band won’t “give up the ghost” anytime soon.
Give Up The Ghost is a surprisingly impressive first effort from Paul Johnson & The About Last Nights. The record only spans five songs and 18-minutes, but in that run, the record exhibits great musical and lyrical diversity. From start to finish, each song presents its own identity, separate from its counterparts. From fun-loving to truly in-depth, the songs present a wide range of emotions in both music and lyrics. All things considered, the record proves to be one of the year’s best new EPs, and gives hope that the band won’t “give up the ghost” any time soon. More information on Give Up The Ghost is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:
Blacktop Mojo has released the debut single from its upcoming album Burn The Ships.
‘Pyromaniac’ is a grinding, gritty, guitar-driven composition that will appeal to fans of Brand New Sin, Black Label Society, and Black Stone Cherry and others of that ilk. The band said in a collective statement that the song is one of its favorite songs from its upcoming album, which can be pre-ordered online now here.
“It has been a long a** journey to get to this point, so we’re very excited to premiere the first track, ‘Pyromaniac’ off our new album Burn The Ships,” the band said. “the song holds a special place in our hearts, and not to mention, it kicks a** when we play it live. Hope you all enjoy the song as much as we love playing it.”
Burn The Ships was produced by Philip Mosley and mixed and mastered by Austin Deptula. Audiences who pre-order the album now will receive ‘Pyromaniac’ as an instant download. Burn The Ships’ complete track listing is noted below.
1 Where The Wind Blows
2 End Of Days
3 Burn The Ships
5 Shadows On The Wall
8 8000 Lines
9 Dog On A Leash
10 Make A Difference
12 Dream On
More information on ‘Pyromaniac’ is available online now along with all of Blacktop Mojo’s latest news and more at: