Scuzzy Blues Rock
Self-Released May 27th, 2015
When I first heard Johnny Conqueroo, I was standing in an ice cream truck and enduring the heat of late August at this year’s Crave Food & Music Festival. If I recall correctly, the band was the first to play on the festival’s second day, and I was certain that the sound engineer was just playing some Black Keys or White Stripes soundalike over the loudspeaker to fill time before the first band went on – no specific song that I’d heard before, but something in that general vein, I thought. Nope, it turns out it was a live performance, and one being put on by three young guys (average age… 17, maybe?) who I assume are classmates at some Lexington high school they have in common. If they end up reading this write-up, I’m sure they’ll want to read something about the quality of their music, and one that speaks about it independently of their age.
The EP clocks in at seventeen minutes, is made up of five songs (four originals, plus a much more distorted rendition of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Smokestack Lightning”). The tracks are true to the blues tradition, in the sense that they tell the sorts of stories you’d expect from folks like Muddy Waters or Buddy Guy – nights spent in jail, infidelity, the summer heat, and whatever other trouble the average blues musician finds themselves in. Injections of lyrics are usually spaced out with longer portions of slide guitar, solos, and vamping. For the most part, the vocals take the back seat to the instruments on these five songs – the texture and distortion they’re picking up of their instruments in the recording (and even the warmth of the vocals) is what gives this EP the atmosphere it has, edging right up to the point of psychedelia and sometimes even stepping across the line.
Generally speaking, I don’t listen to a lot of blues music, but this EP is one I certainly enjoyed. I hope that these guys get to stay together for a little while and that they’re able to experiment even more with their sound – in the meantime, this is a really solid place to start.
Tracks I Liked: Night in Jail!, Hearing Voices!, Summer Blues!!
Ben Southworth – October 2nd, 2015 – Mount Horeb