Ultimate Interviews

Ultimate Interviews

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Mojo Stone - Debut Album

Logo: Laura Stockman
Track Listing
1. Push
2. Black Soul Shine
3. Gotta Let you Go
4. Trouble's Gonna Come
5. Avalon's Seed
6. Got My Mojo Working
7. Ophelia Otherwise
8. Heart In Your Hand
9. Howlin' At My Door

All songs written & performed by Mojo Stone except track 6, written by Preston Foster and published by Dare Music, Inc.

Mojo Stone
Ryan Burow: Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals on track 6.
Simon Visco: Lead vocals except track 2. Guitars
Nick Militello: Percussion, Mandolin, Lead Vocals on track 2, Backing Vocals on track 6

PhotosMeredith Snow/Snowfall Photography

Every once in awhile you cross paths with someone who leaves quite the impression on you. I first met Simon during the summer of 2015, at a Jimmy Page book event in Toronto, Canada. Simon and his friends entertained us die-hard Page fans who were camped out overnight, with an acoustic guitar, singing Zep classics to pass the time. Little did I know that would just be the tip of the iceberg of this young man's incredible talent. I soon discovered the extent of his musical prowess after becoming friends on Facebook and listening to his band, Mojo Stone, on YouTube. 
As the month's went by, Simon and his bandmates were preparing for their debut album to be released in the Winter of 2015. I had heard some previously released versions of the songs on their YouTube channel and was captivated by both the complexity and simplicity of the tunes. Musically, it was powerful, strong, yet lyrically they were subtle and gentle. The perfect combination that made each song highlight the talents of Simon and his friends, Ryan Burow (Bass) and Nick Militello (Drums). 
Photo: Meredith Snow/Snowfall Photography
At first listen, the cd comes across as a great Rock and Roll album, with traces of the Blues.
It's only when you repeatedly listen to it, do you appreciate the multiple layers of influences from many genres and artists that the three men look to for inspiration.

Right out of the gates, the cd opens with the energetic 'Push'. The powerhouse track that provides every indication of what to expect from its fellow trackmates.
The collaboration of all instruments, vocals included, are tight and precise and lead into the first solo of the album that showcases Visco's extraordinary guitar playing. It's the perfect album opener.
Photo: Meredith Snow/Snowfall Photography
'Black Soul Shine' comes in with a punch and features drummer Nick on vocals. It's interesting to hear the distinctive sound of the vocals, courtesy of the way they were recorded. 
Simon's guitar and Ryan's bass contribute to the power of the song and it truly is a hidden gem on the cd.
'Gotta Let You Go' is a wonderfully written, executed song. The vocals are sang clearly and backed up by the other instruments. This song showcases Simon's vocal range. While the verses are soft and mellow,  when the time is right, Simon demonstrates what could become his signature higher range.

After the initial guitar solo, the song is amped up a couple notches but then abruptly ends, leaving you wanting to hear more and if you're anything like this listener, you hit repeat.
A standout track for me personally is the multi-textured 'Trouble's Gonna Come'. The somber, haunting lyrics by Simon and Nick set to equally haunting music, may for some, require a couple times listening to, to fully appreciate the intricate workings of this song.
It's one of those tracks that really takes the listener on what could be described as a bumpy but enjoyable ride. At times it's steady and melodic, then can quickly get chaotic and choppy, up and down like waves being trashed around during a storm. But that is what makes this song work, and very well so at that. Definitely a song this listener finds is the best on the album.
Photo: Meredith Snow/Snowfall Photography
After a powerful song like 'Trouble's Gonna Come', the album gives the listener time to recuperate to the beautiful, acoustic 'Avalon's Seed'. It's evident at this time, if it wasn't already, who Mojo Stone cite as their influences.
The instrumental works magnificently as a transitioning song, neighbored between one that is haunting and one that draws from the Blues both figuratively and literally. 
For you Led Zeppelin fans, you will surely hear the similarities to 'Bron-Yr-Aur' and for the Rival Sons fans, you will hear the connection to Scott Holiday's 'Nava'.

Once you've had this little break, the album kicks up in tempo with a cover of the late Muddy Waters 'Got My Mojo Working'. 
​Incidentally, this happened to be the very first Mojo Stone song that I heard and quickly made me a fan of their music.

All instruments perform amazingly tight with each other. Throw in a harmonica and you have one rocking tune. It is such a great interpretation of a Blues classic. Definitely one song that must be heard live.
Photo: Meredith Snow/Snowfall Photography
It might be an unusual choice for a cover, but Mojo Stone makes it work. It's a prime example that in addition to them being rock fans, they also appreciate and respect the Blues.
With delicate strumming and tambourine, 'Ophelia Otherwise' is a crowing jewel in Mojo Stone's crown. After a few listens it quickly became a personal favourite.

Thanks to Simon's prodigious guitar playing, Nick's mandolin and Ryan's bass, the song is no surprise a highlight of the album.  It's a
nother track that demonstrates the prolific writing styles of young men who are beyond their years.

​The words are sang with conviction, and convey the message that the songwriter may be looking to send out.

It may be hard to follow 'Ophelia Otherwise', but  'Heart In Your Hand' accepts the challenge and comes in like a freight train.  It's a driving tune with an energetic melody. It's quite the change from its predecessor.​
Photo: Ryan Burrow
The album's closer is 'Howlin' At My Door'. It may be last on the disc but certainly one to be reckoned with.
It's the epitome of a rock and roll song: infused with a hypnotic guitar riff, blasting vocals, heavy bass, crashing drums and cymbals. What more can you ask for?
As the solo fades, enters the ominous cries of a bow being dragged across six strings that would make even Jimmy Page himself proud.

Accompanied by drums and bass, the song's intensity increases until it picks up where the first half of the song left off.  

As vocals return, the repetitive hammering guitar carries the song for another minute, and for good measure, one more guitar solo before the song ends. It really is quite a number and perfect way to end an incredible album.
The track listing and its order benefits the flow of the songs. They work together, yet independently, all to create an overall fantastic product. They're not trying to sound like all the other bands, instead, they have a vision and are working hard to achieve it. Individually, they possess amazing talents. Collectively, they are simply an amazing band.

You have to keep in mind these are young guys who are continuing to perfect their craft. 
​ They have successfully executed the requirements for a debut album. Hard rocking songs intermingled with softer elements, and an instrumental thrown in for good measure. If it's any indication of what they are capable of, subsequent albums are bound to be even more so amazing.​

What the future holds for this trio is up to the players themselves. They have years ahead to decide which road they want to travel. It's safe to say that regardless of what outfit they may find themselves in, they definitely have a bright future in the music business.
Photo:Meredith Snow/Snowfall Photography
I highly recommend Mojo Stone's debut album for anyone who appreciates great rock and roll. It has been in heavy rotation since receiving my copy.

Stay tuned for an interview with Simon coming soon.

Until then, be sure to support this up and coming band by purchasing their album on their Official Bandcamp page.

For more information about Mojo Stone be sure to check them out on:
Official Mojo Stone Facebook
Official Mojo Stone YouTube
Official Mojo Stone Twitter
Official Mojo Stone Soundcloud

Contact: mojostoneofficial@gmail.com

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Original Review HERE

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