Hard Rock Daddy presents Music Discovery Monday – 10/26/15.
Each week, the HRD team shares songs that fly below radio’s radar, ranging from lesser-known artists to deeper cuts from both up-and-coming and established artists.
In addition to exposing the Hard Rock Daddy audience to new music that isn’t getting the attention that it deserves from radio, Music Discovery Monday also features a segment called “Hard Rock Music Time Machine,” which showcases older songs (from the ’70s to today) that hard rock music fans may have missed at the time of release.
In addition to appearing on the embedded YouTube playlists beneath each section, all songs featured on Music Discovery Monday can be listened to by clicking on the hyper-linked song titles.
This week, Music Discovery Monday features an exclusive interview with Blacktop Mojo frontman Matt James, who discusses two of the bands songs, including an inspired cover of Jamey Johnson’s “In Color.”
ADAM WALDMAN – (Publisher, Hard Rock Daddy)
BLACKTOP MOJO – “The River”
It is said that “revenge is a dish best served cold.” Since our time on earth is limited, it stands to reason that you can only exact revenge for so long. Blacktop Mojo brilliantly depicts a scenario where revenge can come at any time – including after death – in this haunting, soulful Southern Rock song with a strong Alice In Chains influence.
When you listen to this song, you’ll be left wondering how Blacktop Mojo has managed to fly under the radar. The band has a seasoned sound that leads you to believe that they’ve been together for several years. It was surprising to me to find out that these young Texas rockers are relatively new to the scene (founded in September of 2012), and that the members of the band have little to no experience outside of Blacktop Mojo.
The thought-provoking lyrics of “The River” are brought to life by frontman Matt James’ poignant delivery, highlighted by chilling backing vocals.
In a recent exclusive interview with Hard Rock Daddy, Matt James shared the inspiration and meaning behind “The River”…
“Our original bass player, Chris Davis, had this riff that he wrote on guitar. This is one of the first songs that we all collaborated on together as a band. We couldn’t think of any words to go with it right away, so we went riding around, stopped, and drank some whiskey. Chris, Nathan (Gillis) and I all sat down, and I came up with the idea of two guys that are bitter enemies. One of the guys dies, and the one who is still living has to cross the river Styx to find the guy and get his revenge. The story is inspired by Greek Mythology. I was reading a lot of that stuff at the time, so it’s really just a concept song. Of course, we’ve all been done wrong in our lives at one time or another, and wish that we could have done something about it. The song kind of touches on living in a perfect world where you can get your revenge whenever someone does you wrong. I’m not really mad at anything at the moment though, so it’s just fictional.”
BLACKTOP MOJO – “In Color”
Earlier this year, Chris Cornell joined forces with Zac Brown to create a song that brought two unlikely sounds together. Back in the early ‘90s, no one would have imagined that the Seattle sound could ever be melded with country music, but “Heavy Is The Head” made a huge impact on Active Rock radio. Admittedly, my knowledge of country music is minimal at best, so I was unfamiliar with the original version of “In Color” (by Jamey Johnson).
Matt James shows his diversity and a mature sound that goes well beyond his years on “In Color,” a song that captures nostalgia the same way that Kid Rock did with “All Summer Long.” It’s natural to look at an old black and white photo and think that life was somehow less colorful than it is today. The vivid lyrics of “In Color” serve as a reminder that a picture may be worth a thousand words, but the real story can only be told with context.
If you didn’t know any better, you would think that James was telling the story as his grandfather told it to him. It’s challenging enough to make a cover song your own, much less delivering someone else’s incredibly personal memory with such authenticity. James does so with flying colors, supported by beautifully moving backing vocals and a band that knows just when to let the song breathe and when to let loose. Lead guitarist Ryan Kiefer highlights the song with a solo that features shades of Neal Schon on “Don’t Stop Believin’.”
Matt James discussed how the band decided to choose “In Color” as a cover song during our interview…
“Our producer Phil (Mosely) was working on making a rock version of the song. He asked me to sing on it, and for Nathan (Gillis) to play drums. We played around with it in the studio, kind of for fun. Once we had the demo track of it, we were playing it for our friends and everyone in the area. With Tyler, TX being a country market, everyone that we played it for thought it was awesome. We started playing it live, and then decided to make a video for the song. It took off on Facebook pretty quickly. It got over 600 shares and around 26,000 views. Jamey Johnson (the original writer) is one of my favorite country artists, so it was pretty cool to get to do ‘In Color.’ I don’t know if he’s heard our version. We Tweeted it at him, but haven’t heard back yet.”
JON LOVELESS – HRD Music Scout
ROYAL RUCKUS – “Let Me Tell You”
In recent years, Sweden has produced a number of notable bands in the sleaze rock sub-genre, but for this group, the influences harken back to the ‘70s more than the ‘80s. “Let Me Tell You” is the first single from a new EP. There’s a nice amount of raw energy here to accompany the distinctive vocal of Guernica Mancini, who comes across as a woman not to be trifled with. I’d recommend any hard rock fan give this a listen, but particularly those who are fans of bands such as One Bad Son and Monster Truck.
ARKHAM’S RAZOR – “Carnival Of Lost”
Led by guitarist Neil Hibbs, this U.K. band could have the makings of something (if the first single is any indication). The writing is solid; the guitar solo stands out, and the vocals of Lee Small (Shy) shine when they soar. Well worth a listen to see if it’s to your taste, but in the back of my mind, there’s a feeling I can’t shake that the band is capable of even more on tracks that aren’t quite as “restrained” (for lack of a better word).
ROB DELL’AQUILA – HRD Music Scout
MILLENNIAL REIGN – “Men Stand Alone”
Chugging twin guitars and upper-range, powerful vocals exchange energy in this monster track from the band’s second album. Millennial Reign is a melodic metal band out of Dallas, Texas, with a sound reminiscent of Iron Maiden.
OZONE – “So Blind”
Ozone teams up two all-star vocalists, Chris Ousey (Virginia Wolf, Heartland) and Steve Overland (FM). Take the first letter of their last names and you are in the “O” Zone, so to speak. These veterans play off of each other brilliantly. Add into the mix the guitar and production of Mike Slamer and backing vocals by two Kansas members (Billy Greer, Ronnie Platt), and, as on this track, a simple, acoustic guitar intro launches easily into a soaring, layered ballad. Ousey and Slamer joined forces four years ago for a Chris Ousey album, and it’s great to have them renewing that collaboration here, with even more talent tapped for the new group.
CHRIS HERZEGOVITCH – HRD Music Scout
HELLOWEEN – “Stay Crazy”
“Could we ever stop the thing we dare to live and love?” No hidden meaning with this terrific track from veteran metalheads, Helloween. They’ve put out a lot of great music since 1984 with several different lineups, and have cross-pollinated with many other successful bands, including: Hammerfall, Iron Maiden, Blind Guardian, Pink Cream 69, Freedom Call and Unisonic. The trend of putting out great music continues with “Stay Crazy.”
LYNCH MOB – “Automatic Fix”
Get your “Automatic Fix” of guitar legend George Lynch & company, which includes veteran Oni Logan on vocals (DIO Disciples, Racer X). From their seventh studio album, Rebel, this track has great locomotion, vocals, and an excellent, long solo from Lynch.
To be considered for Music Discovery Monday, please e-mail a link to the song being submitted on YouTube and an artist bio to – submissions@MusicDiscoveryMonday.com
HARD ROCK MUSIC TIME MACHINE
SMITH & MYERS (f. Kenny Wayne Shepherd) – “Blue On Black” (2014)
Shinedown’s Brent Smith and Zach Myers worked together on a side project doing a number of acoustic cover songs. Choosing one to highlight was difficult because they are all inspired, but the most interesting song that they recorded is “Blue On Black,” which features a collaboration with Kenny Wayne Shepherd (who wrote and performed the original). The dual acoustic guitars provide an interesting dynamic. Smith stays true to the original, but makes the song his own with the distinct nuances that make him one of the best singers of this generation. Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Shinedown fans alike will appreciate this take on “Blue On Black.”
BLACK STONE CHERRY – “Blind Man” (2008)
From Black Stone Cherry’s sophomore release, Folklore And Superstition, “Blind Man” is a song that made me instantly crank up the car radio when hearing it for the first time. It is also the song that turned me on to these Kentucky rockers. To this day, “Blind Man” remains a favorite. At first blush, what you notice most about this song is the high-energy, melodic southern sound, but as you listen more carefully, shades of Led Zeppelin (and even a bit of Rush) shine through. Booming drums, shredding guitars and anthemic gang vocals all lay the foundation for frontman Chris Robertson to showcase his gritty, powerful, soulful vocals.
VOODOO CIRCLE – “Cry For Love” (2013)
News of a forthcoming new album later this year sent me back to the previous release from this German band headed by guitarist Alex Beyrodt (Silent Force). He has plenty of talent around him, including bandmate Mat Sinner and Allessandro Del Vecchio as well as vocalist David Readman (Pink Cream 69). This track showcases the more melodic side of the band, without drifting outright into power ballad territory.
SHY – “Break Down The Walls” (1987)
On the long list of bands that should have been bigger in the U.S. than they ever quite became, these U.K. rockers started strong in the mid-‘80s and seemed to reach their peak as the end of the decade approached. They carried on through various lineup changes, including two departures by vocalist Tony Mills (TNT), and released a critically acclaimed album featuring Lee Small on the mic in 2011. Tragically, the album would be their last, as founding guitarist Steve Harris succumbed to a brain tumor less than a month after the release. This particular track – co-written with Don Dokken – was their biggest radio hit, and stands up well in their catalog, bridging AOR, metal and beyond.
SUSPYRE – “I See” (2005)
New Jersey band Suspyre plays intense progressive metal with layers of instrumentation and vocals. This piece comes from their acclaimed debut album, The Sylvery Image. The composition is utterly overwhelming and the mood is nothing short of majestic.
VIRGINIA WOLF – “Man In The Moon” (1987)
Chris Ousey has a new album out as part of the new group Ozone (reviewed above). Three decades ago, he sang for the rock band, Virginia Wolf, featuring Jason Bonham on drums. This anguished ballad, from their 1987 album, Push, was my favorite from the band.
TROUBLE TRIBE – “Here Comes Trouble” (1990)
“Here Comes Trouble” is a throwback to 1990, a period piece from the heyday of glam and hair metal bands. It gets all the style points for its kitschy lyrics and sound.
TAROT – “Ashes To The Stars” (2006)
No shock to hear really good power metal from Scandinavia. Finland is home to Tarot, a band that has been around since the mid-‘80s, with the Hietala brothers leading the way (Marco on vocals/bass and Zachary on lead guitar). From the 2006 album, Crows Fly Black, the highlight of “Ashes To The Stars” is the rhythm line and the vocals.