Mascot Label Group
Review by Rick Ossian
When first listening to this Blues/Psych/Rock extravaganza, I thought my ears were betraying me. Could it be, I mused? A throwback to the West Coast of the mid-to-late 1960’s? Trust me, if you are listening to these cats jam you are conjuring memories of the same time zone and most likely a similar place. I was recalling jams I hadn’t heard in years, particularly Creedence Clearwater Revival or Jefferson Airplane, but with a Heavier, Bluesier edge to the tunes. Imagine Iron Butterfly with a decidedly Wolfmother tweak to it, and you’re probably in the same neighborhood. If you like your Blues mixed with a little Rock, or vice versa, then THIS is the set for you!
Simo have been on the scene since 2011, but I believe this is their first full-length recording. They are from Nashville, Tennessee and are comprised of J.D. Simo on guitars and vocals, Elad Shapiro on bass and Adam Abrashoff on drums. This collection of recordings comes out on January 29th. As I mentioned above, if you are even a casual fan of Blues/Rock, then DO NOT pass up this opportunity. Go to your Apple or Amazon app (for your convenience, click on the relevant link above! – Ed) or your local music store or whatever you have to do to obtain these tasty treats for your ears!
The lead off track, Stranger Blues, may as well be the single – according to this source it was the track most requested thus far. It is perfect for FM (well, perhaps a bit long at just over five minutes), and features a heavy blues rock riff with a powerful Southern Rock-style vocal a la Gregg Allman. There are two lead guitar solos as well!
Two-Timin Woman is another slice of rocking Blues, and kicks off about half-way in with a stinging slide-laced solo that sticks with the main tune throughout. Can’t Say Her Name (‘cos it’s called something different every day’) is a serious Blues. What could be Bluer, you might ask? The next track, certainly. I Lied is a heavy bass-driven number, with a psych breakdown section featuring lead guitar with wah/crybaby FX through to the close.
Please starts up with a crack! on the drums to signal yet another rave-up. This is old-school Blues Rock, about a man breaking up with his woman. Definitely Bluer! Another lead guitar solo rounds this one out. Long May You Sail begins life with a majestic lead and rhythm intro. We’re half-way in and no complaints so far, folks. Solid vocals and more blues rock power assault our senses with this number. There are lead solos a-plenty, as well. This one IS a bit surreal – the leads sound a bit like bagpipes. At 1:50 J.D. cuts loose with a squealing barrage of crazy wah/crybaby FX (again), and a big WAH at the end also.
I’ll Always Be Around commences with a positively sinister Blues intro. This is serious Blues, with a heavy build-up in the first minute. The mere fact that there is a Blues crescendo of sorts gives this one it’s MOJO, baby! Lot of slide mixed with the lead solo right up to the end – again! This is a pattern that, fortunately, bears repeating.
Becky’s Last Occupation should win points for title alone, but it’s not it really needs any. This is more of the same powerful heavy Blues Rock that we’ve already been exposed to from these gents. There is excellent use of sustain, echo and feedback here. J.D. is obviously no stranger to danger when it comes to being a master of his fretboard. This tune also features a nice, heavy beat and a good solid, strong vocal as well. The guitar solo at 2:10 sort of brings it all home, and we end with another nice big WAH!
I’d Rather Die in Vain is the first of the two monster Blues guitar workout, and at almost 10 minutes, suffice it to say we probably won’t be charging onto the FM waves with this one. Unless, of course, the boys sanction one of those radio edits we’re always hearing so much about. This is an enormous, powerful Blues monster of a track, and features some heavy distortion during the long mid-section. This is classic three-piece Blues Rock jamming in the vein of Cream or Rory Gallagher‘s Taste. Some very fine bass work shines on here as well, and we have a very strong finish.
Today I Am Here is one of two plaintive guitar laments, sort of a Country Blues. This one just happens to be an instrumental. The title track is up next, and is another of the longer tracks at 6 minutes on the nose. It starts us off with a cool feedback/wah intro, then more heavy Psych Blues. This is not merely a ‘tear in my beer’ Blues, however – this is thoughtful, sophisticated stuff. It even SOUNDS genuine! Love the wah, by the way. I like how the Blues turns heavy and thrashing (think Neil Young’s Crazy Horse and you’ve got a good idea), and extra points for the instrumental breakdown section – especially the BASS! Wow! Some excellent bass work here. Another Heavy Blues crescendo sort of steals the scene at the end, and the close is an acoustic Blues.
Track Twelve, Ain’t Doin’ Nothin‘, is another big monster Blues/Rock guitar workout, and again instrumental. The sheer length along (just shy of 14 minutes) makes one think they are in for an endurance test, but rest assured, dear reader, if you like what you’ve heard so far then you are in for no surprises. There is some impressive jazzy ensemble playing here, and all three members shine at one or two points herein. Lot of soloing, and a long improvisational jam as well. I was reminded of everyone from Jimmy Page (feedback/violin-style FX), Alex Lifeson (Rush) and John Fogerty of the aforementioned CCR. Again, there are some very cool bass guitar licks as well.
Proceedings are closed out with the other plaintive Acoustic Country-Blues lament, this time with vocals. Please Be With Me is its title, and there is some rather nice playing on here also. Top marks for the entire recording!