Courtesy: Sand Hill Records
Blacktop Mojo is scheduled to hold a live streaming performance Wednesday afternoon. The concert, scheduled to take place from 4:35 p.m. – 5:05 p.m., is part of a bigger event headlined b Clutch. The event in question is a fundraiser that is meant to benefit the nonprofit agencies MusiCares and Angel Flight West. It will be available to watch until May 30. Tickets are available for the May 27 show here. The ticket price — $9 — will remain the same for the concert’s On Demand stream as for its live stream. Blacktop Mojo’s performance will be in support of its forthcoming EP Static, which is scheduled for release May 29. The four-song record, which will come less than a year after the release of the band’s third album Under The Sun, is an interesting offering from the group. That is because over the course of its 18-minute run time, it proves to be a rather brooding presentation. That is not entirely a negative, though. It’s not like it’s some goth/emo type of work that relies so much on lyrical themes of “oh-woe-is-me.” It is pretty heavy, though, in both its lyrical and music content. ‘Watch Me Drown,’ the EP’s second single proves the brooding is not all bad. It will be addressed shortly. The record’s opener, ‘The End’ (How’s hat for irony, the record’s opener is called ‘The End’). ‘Leave It Alone,’ the EP’s third entry, is one more example of what makes the EP engaging. It will also be addressed later. All three of these songs and the EP’s closer, ‘Signal’s Gone’ work together to make the record in while a presentation that is worth hearing at least once.
Blacktop Mojo’s forthcoming EP Static is an engaging presentation that is worth hearing at least once thanks to its heavy musical arrangements and equally heavy lyrical content. That is proven in part through the EP’s second single ‘Watch Me Drown.’ The song’s brooding nature will keep listeners engaged throughout the course of its nearly four-minute run time. The verses present a soft, yet very contemplative sense, while the choruses are far more fiery, creating a strong emotional impact through that dichotomy. The juxtaposition of sounds also serves to help translate the song’s lyrical theme, adding even more to the song’s impact.
The song’s lyrical theme in question seems to center on someone addressing one of those false individuals who claim to be a friend, but in the end proves to be anything but. This is inferred as front man Matt James sings, “Call for help/I’m going under/I need you to keep me alive/In my head I had to wonder/What was going through your mind/When you watched me drown/You watched me drown/Drown.” He continues in the song’s second verse and chorus reprise, “You’ve go the rope in hand/Won’t you please throw me a line/You could have pulled me back to shore/But you ha that look in your eye/When you watched me drown/You watched me drown/Drown/Don’t you dare to chicken out now/You know you can’t turn around now.” This obviously isn’t actually about someone physically drowning in the water. It is metaphorical writing that is meant to make the song an allegory about someone who thought he/she knew another person, only to find out that same person wasn’t quite who he/she was believed to have been. Everyone has been in that proverbial boat at some point, thinking they knew someone, only to find out that person was just a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Considering this, it strengthens the song’s presentation even more in the song’s ability to connect with listeners through this message. The well-crafted musical arrangement that accompanies the song’s lyrical content adds to that ability of the song to connect with listeners. The two elements make the song a work that while brooding, is still powerful and will connect with listeners. It is just one of the songs featured in Blacktop Mojo’s new EP that makes the record stand out. ‘The End,’ the record’s opener, is another notable addition to the EP.
Much as is the case with ‘Watch Me Drown,’ the musical arrangement at the center of ‘The End’ is very brooding. Again, the song’s verses find James and his band mates contemplating while the chorus is a stark contrast to that sound, adding to the impact of the arrangement and song in whole. On a side note, James’ vocal delivery is comparable to that of former Creed front man turned solo artist Scott Stapp while the work of his band mates – Nathan Gillis (drums), Ryan Keifer (guitar), Chck Wepfer (guitar) and Matt Curtis (bass) – create a sound that is akin to so many songs from Alter Bridge. That is meant in the most complimentary fashion possible. The emotion exhibited through the song’s musical arrangement does well in its own right to make the song engaging in its own right. The addition of the lyrical content to the mix strengthens the song’s presentation even more.
The song’s lyrical content comes across as a story about a relationship of some sort that has reached…well…its end. The lyrics do not signify whether this is a romantic or plutonic relationship, but it leaves little doubt as to the fact that it is about a personal relationship of some sort coming to a difficult end. This is inferred as James sings in the song’s lead verse and chorus, “Do you feel like you’re dying/Did you know that I was lying/What was I supposed to do/I always run away from you/Well I know you don’t like surprises.” He continues in the song’s second verse, “But I’m tired of compromises/There’s nothing left that I can do/Cry today/Tomorrow live.” He adds to the song’s chorus in its refrain, “I don’t know how we got here.” That final statement is interesting to note. It’s the song’s subject looking back and pointing out he/she had no other choice considering everything. Again, this is content to which listeners will have an easy time relating. That person is saying to the other individual that person knew the end was coming, but was essentially in denial, so he/she should not be surprised by what has transpired. It, again, is something that will connect with listeners. In turn, that ability to relate to the song’s lyrics makes the song that much more notable, especially when it is accompanied by its musical arrangement. All things considered, the song is another example of the EP’s strength, despite being an overwhelmingly brooding presentation. It is just one more of the record’s most notable works. ‘Leave It Alone’ does its own job to show the EP’s strength.
‘Leave It Alone’ is contemplative in its own right in its musical arrangement, and sounds even more like something akin to works from Creed like the record’s other songs. Again, that is due in part to each musician’s own contribution to the song. The emotional impact of the song’s musical arrangement couples with its equally thought provoking lyrical content to make the song stand out in whole even more.
The lyrical content presented in ‘Leave It Alone’ is just as engaging as that in the other two songs noted here and of ‘Signal’s Gone,’ the EP’s closer. This time out, the song seems to come across as someone who has gone through quite a bit telling someone much younger that he needs to “slow his role” so to speak, and realize his place. That is inferred right from the song’s outset, “Hard eyes swallow whole/Body full of foreign soil/Stare down 1,000 miles/Let that be boy/Leave it alone/Don’t speak no more/Hold your tongue/That ain’t for you/It’s mine to hold/Let that be/Leave it alone.” The song’s subject continues addressing that other person in the song’s second verse, telling that person, “Heart pounds with bygone rage/Keep it locked there in its cage/Weathered hands can’t let go/Pain captured in kodachrome.” This hints even more at the song’s subject being someone older who is telling that younger person who perhaps thinks he/she knows more than the subject in no uncertain terms, “you don’t know anything” and to know his/her place. That is of course this critic’s interpretation. Hopefully it is close to being the correct interpretation. If in fact that is the song’s story, then it is one that will put a smile on listeners’ faces, too. That is because everyone can relate to this situation, too. We have all been in a position in which we have had to remind someone of his/her place. This is just one of those cases. That ability of the song’s lyrical content to connect with listeners along with the ability of the song’s musical arrangement to engage and entertain listeners adds to the song’s impact. All things considered here, the song shows once more why this record, despite having a very distinct overall musical sound and sense, is still worth hearing at least once. That argument is strengthened even more as the other songs noted here are considered along with this work and the EP’s closer, ‘Signal’s Gone.’ When all four songs are assembled and examined together, they make Static a record that deserves its own share of applause.
Blacktop Mojo’s forthcoming EP Static is a work that is deserving of its own share of attention and applause. There is a lot of heavy lyrical content and some equally heavy musical content throughout the course of its 18-minute run time. What is interesting, as has been pointed out here, is that even with all that of that musical and lyrical heaviness, the record still is able to connect with listeners. All three of the songs addressed here serve to support that statement. When they are considered along with the record’s closer, the whole of the record proves itself to be another positive offering from Blacktop Mojo that deserves its own share of attention and applause. Static is scheduled for release Friday. More information on the EP is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:
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