Album Review: Blacktop Mojo – Under the Sun

With the release of their third studio album, "Under The Sun", Blactop Mojo are proving that they are a band you should pay attention to. 

Blacktop Mojo new ablum, "Under the Sun". Released September 13,2019

With the release of their studio album, Under the Sun (scheduled to be released September 13, 2019), the band from Palestine, TX has shown that they have what it takes to get people to stand up and take notice. Blacktop Mojo started back in 2012 by Matt James and Nathan Gillis in a town called Palestine, TX. The band has put out several albums since 2012 staring with their 2014 debut album, I am and following up with their 2017 album Burn the Ship. This featured the cover songs Aerosmith’s “Dream on”.

Under the Sun is the product of a crowdfunding project by started Blacktop Mojo. It started in 2018 when a press release went out announcing the venture. The band was quoted as saying in a press release at the time, “As independent artists, everything we do is fan-funded. We don’t have a record label loaning us a ton of money to make a record. With that, comes some financial pitfalls, but it also means NOBODY tells us how to make music for you guys and we think that’s pretty cool!” Pretty cool is right because after listening to the album, Blacktop Mojo have shown they know what they are doing when it comes to making an album that stands up in the musical industry.

When you go back and listen to the past album the band has produced/released, I am and Burn the Ship, it is easy to see (or better yet, hear) how this band from Texas has evolved with musicianship and writing skills. Their latest album is no exception to that rule. It only takes you seconds, after you listen to the first song (“Lay It on Me”), that this album will is something that you should pay attention to with the strong melodies and vocals. You cannot help but get hooked by the mixture of the thunderous sound of the drums, bass and the feedback of the guitar as the song draws you in.

Matt James (Vocals), Nathan Gillis (Drums), Ryan Kiefer (Lead Guitar), Matt Curtis (Bass), and Chuck Wepfer (Guitar). Image courtesy of TAG Publicity 2019

Blacktop Mojo has been described as a “hard-driving Southern rock” band; it is prevalent with several of the tracks of the album. The songs (“Set It Free” and “All Mine Now”) get the listener interest with the heavy drum beat and the warm sound of the guitar. Each song keeps the listener interest with vocals from Matt James throughout the album.

However the album is not all heavy guitars and tempo, the band slow things down a bit by throwing in a bluesy flavor song into the mix. One sign of a good song is the ability to draw you in and build an imaginary scene in the listener’s mind from the lyrics and these songs do it for the listeners (“It Won’t Last” and “The Lashing (Ghost)”). Sorry, I was part of the video generation but it doesn’t change how the song performs.

With many bands, a few their influences bleed out in how they make music. It can be how a song is written or played (“Under the Sun”). Blacktop Mojo is no different. As you listen to an album it is possible to hear some of the band’s influence in the songs are written and performed. The difference is with this band and others who know what they are doing; they took what musically influenced them and made it their own.

The bottom line is this; Blacktop Mojo has come a long way since 2012. Creatively and musically they have evolved into the band that they are today and this album reflects it. It is an album that you will have to listen more than once because you will get hooked on everything about it…and then some. Someone mentioned that they were wondering how this album will do, well, in my opinion, this album will make some people in the music industry take notice. If not, then there is something seriously wrong with the music industry. Considering this is the bands’ third album, it does make you wonder what the future has in stored for Blacktop Mojo.

Band Members:
  • Matt James (Vocals)
  • Nathan Gillis (Drums)
  • Ryan Kiefer (Lead Guitar)
  • Matt Curtis (Bass)
  • Chuck Wepfer (Guitar)
Album Track List:
  1. Lay It On Me (4:23)
  2. Set It Free (3:28)
  3. Come Get Your Coat (4:29)
  4. Keep (4:28)
  5. It Won’t Last (5:37)
  6. All Mine Now (3:40)
  7. Can’t Sleep (4:42)
  8. The Lashing (Ghost) (3:32)
  9. The Void (4:37)
  10. Under The Sun (4:03)

Rating: 9/10
Release Date: September 13, 2019
Label: Independent
Runtime: 42:59

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