Soul Scratch – Pushing Fire

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Jan 232017
 

I spent years digging through crates in moldy backrooms, used bookstores and huge record conventions. I spent so much time looking backwards for my soul and funk fix that I missed the earliest days of the revival we are currently enjoying. It helped that vinyl’s own resurgence began pushing used record prices into the stratosphere. With the cost of used vinyl making less sense to me each day, I found myself looking at new music.

Third Man Records, Ubiquity, Secret Stash and Daptone all made me a loyal follower but it is Colemine Records that excites me. Terry Cole and company understand what vinyl and music enthusiasts like myself want. Great music by talented bands, mastered perfectly and delivered using the highest quality vinyl, jackets and covers. Offering special editions, gets the collector’s heart racing, which explains why you need to be fast on the trigger when new releases are announced.

Even with all I love about Colemine, in the end, it all comes down to the music and once again, they deliver with Pushing Fire, the third album from soul powerhouse, Soul Scratch. Pushing Fire was my introduction to the band and I can’t wait to go back and see what I have missed, because this band is on fire!

Pushing Fire opens with the driving , ‘Pacified’, a call for action in a world where watching from the sidelines has become the norm. We are content in our consumerism and Dale Spollett just called us out on it with a vocal passion few could achieve.

Dale’s voice could easily be the power behind most bands by itself but Soul Scratch has a horn section that not only chases his voice, they push him ever forward with their tightly focused playing while keeping him close with enveloping melodies. All this is build on top of the super tight rhythm section, an endless source of killer backfills, flourishes and funky bass lines.

Pushing Fire isn’t all politicised, it weaves around songs of love, like ‘The Road Looks Long’ and Kiss Me In the Morning’, but the band’s real mission is to make you shake your booty on the dance floor. ‘Odessa Heat’ and ‘Empty’ are both barn burners that pull at your boogie shoes from beginning to end.

Soul Scratch are a worthy addition to Colemine’s already impressive stable. I expect more greatness from both the label and the band. Pushing Fire is a masterpiece that hints at a soulful greatness yet to come.

MonkeyJunk – Moon Turn Red

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Oct 132015
 

Formed in 2008, MonkeyJunk is the Ottawa-based trio of Tony D, Steve Marriner, and Matt Sobb. Canada may not be the first place you think of when looking for blues based, hard rocking bands but MonkeyJunk delivers in spades. Their new album, Moon-Turn-Red-Cover-ScanMoon Turn Red, is a hard hitting, swampy bluesfest that is an equal mix of catchy hooks and Black Keys style riffs.

Right out of the gate, ‘Light It Up’ hits you in the chest with a fuzz,buzz guitar sound in a chugging, punk blues style rocker. The slinky, funky feel of ‘Show Me Yours’ retains an edge befitting its title.  The album slips in and out of styles without losing coherence and never leaving you in doubt that you are listening to MonkeyJunk.

If you enjoy a true power ballad, ‘Learn How To Love’ has a driving, heartbroken feel that is punctuated with a screaming harp solo, that makes it hard to walk away from. My favorite song on the album is ‘Lucky One’, a rowdy rocker that feels rooted in everything important in rock and blues. Mainly a hot woman just out of reach, that will burn your life to the ground if you ever become the lucky one.
In a musical landscape full of garage blues and imitation, MonkeyJunk finds their way clear, by combining lively grooves, with hearty grit they dug up far south of their homeland. MonkeyJunk’s, Moon Turn Red,  can make a long drive seem a little shorter, a hard day a little easier and being home a little sweeter. Pick your copy up today and crank it up, way up.

 

Calvin Conway – Dark Horse Deluxe

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Oct 052015
 

To many folks, playing harmonica is something lead singers do when they get bored, much like conking a beat on a cowbell or shaking a tambourine. Obviously these folks have never heard a true harp master, they only know the smeared attempt at notes from the likes of Bob Dylan or the familiar steam-train rhythm from many blues and older country songs. The thing is, in the hands of a master, the harmonica is the lead guitar, the haunting harmony, and sometimes, if the man mouthing the harp has truly given himself wholly to the instrument, the gentle caress of a passionate lover.

FolderCalvin Conway is just such a man. His songs come from deep within, a testament to his travels and his life. The music flows from the ground beneath his boots, he soaks up the history and traditions of the musicians who walked those same roads so long ago. Then he strips them bare and clothes them in modern trappings, in unexpected influences.

Calvin’s new album, Dark Horse Deluxe, takes you on an emotional voyage that begins with the upbeat, ‘Lucky Penny’, which rolls into the boot stomping, ‘I Need You’, where Conway’s harp skills are on full display. Calvin uses the harmonica like a musical scalpel rather than the background exclamation point that is far more common. Every note is enunciated clearly and has been thought out fully. I can’t stress enough how good he is on his chosen instrument nor how good the songwriting is on this collection.

The playful call of ‘Let’s Meet In Memphis’ snaps you back immediately to the longing that pulls at new lovers when they are apart, the Beale Street swing capturing the moment perfectly and it illustrates Calvin’s own understanding of these deep roots. The swampy ride that is ‘Mud Bug’ brings visions of dancing under bright moonlight, the slow boil of crawdads and spice filling the night air.

 
Calvin Conway is set to release Dark Horse Deluxe at the end of October and you should pre-order it now. This album will take you on a journey across the best parts of the  country. Strap yourself in and set it on repeat, better yet, head over to Calvin’s Kickstarter campaign and order the limited-edition vinyl. After spending a lot of time with this album, I can’t think of another that screams for vinyl more than this one, it will make this journey complete.

Soul Track Mind – Unbreakable on VINYL!

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Sep 192015
 

Soul Track Mind’s CD, Unbreakable, made my top ten albums 2015-09-19 10.58.38list for 2014, which is pretty damn impressive considering last years releases. Now I have that album on glorious muti-colored vinyl and brother, it sounds AWESOME! If you don’t own this one, you need to order it today.

My original review: http://mojolists.com/wordpress/soul-track-mind-unbreakable/

Buy that vinyl goodness (in random colors) here: http://www.soultrackmind.com/shop

2015-09-19 10.58.56

Eugene ‘Hideaway’ Bridges – Hold On a Little Bit Longer

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Sep 112015
 

 

With a name like Eugene ‘Hideaway’ Bridges, people will make assumptions about a man and I was happy to have mine met in every way. Hang On A Little Bit Longer is Eugene’s new album and it has a New Orleans juke, jive, horn funk feel that works perfectly with his vocals. This album is fun from beginning to end and from drums to trumpet, nobody misses a step. This band is tight and moving in step towards the same goal.

51-bCP+F+FL._AA160_Hang On A Little Bit Longer feels as familiar as your favorite pair of jeans while managing to bring something fresh to your ears. The album’s title track is the happiest plea in history. In fact I can’t exaggerate just how happy and fun this album is and it is in large part because Eugene sells himself as a man who loves who he is, where he is and knows exactly what he wants to tell you. It isn’t too difficult to imagine that a horn section followed him around since childhood, providing a soundtrack to his life.
Hang On A Little Bit Longer doesn’t explore any new territory, it doesn’t try to be something it isn’t and it is the things it isn’t that make it so good at what it is, an optimistic celebration of the best things in life. You owe it to yourself to kick back and let Eugene ‘Hideaway’ Brooks remind you that it is the simple pleasures that matter most. I highly recommend you relax and listen to this one with a sazerac and cigar.