I wonder where we would all be without The Bronx, the band that takes its name from my hometown. It’s amassed a healthy number of releases in less than two decades with ten proper albums under its moniker as well as its alter-ego Mariachi El Bronx. The group has never relinquished it’s hardcore punk ethos and with the new Bronx VI (Cooking Vinyl), I’m happy to announce the band hasn’t remained stagnant, instead, manifesting a power many probably thought would dissipate by now. Nope. The band comes with energy, the band comes with songs, the band just IS! Included in its sound is more frontal assaults but also in-depth numbers like “Watering The Well,” which isn’t even dry. It’s full of hooks in every nook & cranny, backing harmonies, and power & strength in melody. Yes, this is what we all want, this is what we all need. Even with “Curb Feelers,” while there seems to be much more aggression throughout, the band fills it with infectious backing harmonies in between musical bombasts. It fits well. With the new album, the band busts out all the stops and never lets up. We should all be so lucky to listen to them right now.
I don’t remember the last time I set my radio dial to an alternative rock station, or where I would find one where I live but if I did, I’m pretty sure I’d find England’s Dohny Jep nestled in there somewhere neatly. While there’s nothing wrong with the band’s songs, but I think we’ve heard them all before and the This Is Love EP isn’t much different. One thing though, there’s a questionable identity the band has as it moves through the cathartic heavy pop sound of “WAKEMAKEBREAK” but then move into a much more aggro mode on “Two Left Feet.” Although the vocals are pretty sweet, the sound is “90s rock radio.” Don’t get me wrong, the band is good at what it does but even “I’m Bored” comes across with genre blending Hip-Hop rock vibes that doesn’t sit well with me. But it’s not all negative here as the group closes with the sweet and airy “Living The Dream.” While the band does get intense at moments, it works! I’m split on Dohny Jep and just want to hear something that sounds like Dohny Jep.
With Son Lux, I’ve long championed the trio’s ingenuity as they move against the grain, while smoothly finishing off every song and composition they work on. After releasing its 3-part Tomorrows, the band is at it again with Tomorrows Reworks, a remix release of 7 songs off the collection, with guests like Jon Bap (“Plans We Made”), Emily Wells (“Come Recover”), Black Taffy (“Unbind”), and much more. My suggestion; discover the trilogy first and then listen to this… or, you can listen to this first and follow it up with the 3-part album. Does it make a difference? No, there’s beauty in everything the band touches and this is no different.
Fresh faces, fresh sounds, that new vibe is what we need. It really does apply for new artists as well as established ones. We’re not in search for the reinvention of the wheel – although it would be fascinating – but for something that moves mountains, if not souls. Occasionally we come across an artist who comes close to shaking the very foundation and at others, there are the great pretenders. This one though is the former rather than the latter.
BLK ODYSSY is the latest project by Austin denizen Sam Houston who takes his alter-ego on a soulful journey with BLK VINTAGE (Alpha Pup), with a collection of songs that creates more than a vibe. Songs deliver detailed racial and cultural issues all the while conforming with a distinct sound that’s wandering through treacherous rain storms, with swaths of keyboards & upbeat rhythms surrounding his soothing voice.
While BLK VINTAGE travels through R&B soulfulness, Odyssy’s playful way through Hip-Hop shouldn’t be ignored. Given, R&B and Hip-Hop have always found unity in one way or another but here, the genres blend seamlessly. “Drinking Good,” walks through urban alleyways, drenched in liquor & weed as he duets here with someone who sounds strikingly like Erykah Badu and considering she lives in Dallas, it wouldn’t come as a surprise. As horns filter in, Odyssy rhymes and sings with a story closely tied, about the death of his brother. There’s a sadness that permeates throughout, and with good reason, but the intensely driving track takes on a life of its own. On the title track intro, instruments wind up against one another; horns, wind instruments, bass, and drums and Odyssy’s sultry vocals, much like the froth on drinks, simply rise to the surface. The harmonies here are atmospheric and without description. But it’s “FUNKENTOLOGY” that’s that next-level ish. Of course Odyssy has faced obvious comparisons, and while they’re warranted, the funkadelic movements can’t be denied, although it remains distinctively ‘BLK ODYSSY.’
This is what I was referring to, that new shit, that fresh shit, that inspiring shit that’s supposed to move every individual that hears and listens to it. BLK VINTAGE is the debut that should go down in history with other many greats. I’m willing to place money down on that.
The band has never shied away from where it stands on the grand scheme of the rock continuum. It’s about heavy riffs, power chords, and ripping into stadium-sized anthems. But let’s take a closer look at the band, comprised of Danko Jones himself on vox/guitar, bassist John “JC Calabrese, and Rich Knox on drums. To get a better look at the band, you have to look past 2000 and back to the late 90s, when they were a bunch of fresh-faced youths, touring off early EP releases. The Canadian trio has trekked the world, first with youthful vigor, and now with manly vitality.
The group has amassed a healthy catalog of music throughout the years, and of course, I still tear through the group’s Born a Lion where “Lovercall” remains a favorite of many. Haven’t heard it? Do your research or just click the link. Aesthetically, the band had spewed an unlimited amount of style before being stylish was popular and today clearly still exude that debonair ruggedness. But I digress. The band has released its tenth (depending on who you ask) proper full-length release with Power Trio (Sonic Unyon) and is as heavy as its title suggests. From start to finish, Danko Jones is relentless in its attack.
Opening with “I Want Out” the band pummels through with heavy rhythmic anger, matching Jones’ fervor in his vocal delivery. The band rarely catches its breath before heading into “Good Lookin’,” focused on the lady directly in front of the group. Knox drops the beat, and his bandmates work around it with thick riffs running rampant. Although if there’s anything to make you slow down, stop and pause with the band as they take a crucial turn here on “Raise Some Hell.” Now the band doesn’t eschew the density in its song delivery but adds in a hefty dose of melody. Is it an obvious nod towards pop fandom? Hell yes, it is! Should anyone care? Hell-to-the-fucking no! This is something the band has always been capable of delivering but they’ve opted to go a different route throughout the years. Here though, the band rides out the rhythm, adds in catchy riffs, and Jones, well, he does what he does best: commands the song with every ounce of his being.
Danko Jones moves back to the heavy, the sonic explosiveness its mastered with “Blue Jean Denim Jumpsuit,” and this is how its done; sputtering rhythms, maniacal vocals, and an unfiltered view of the laws of attraction. Jones’ guitar is captivating and we’ll all wish for the moment we can jump off stages as the band destroys everything in its path. But it’s the best of both worlds we all receive with “Get To You,” as the band emerges with its sonic oblivion and matching it with energetic and intense melodies. The group obviously knows what it does best and it has no plans on ever relinquishing the density of its music and as the band’s song says, “Let’s Rock Together.” This one right here is bound to get the crowd moving in unison and if it doesn’t, then people are dead inside because it growls with intensity.
If there’s anything to take away from this is to be happy. Be happy Danko Jones hasn’t lost its way with Power Trio because we need this right now. In the muck and mire that we’ve been left in the past couple of years, rock with them. You’ll be the better for it, we all will.