Hogjaw Rise To The Mountains in retrospect

Hailing from Arizona, Hogjaw has just released their sixth studio album called Way Down Yonder (which we reviewed recently here on Bluesdoodles). They are now reissuing their 2015 album Rise to the Mountains. This retrospective release does not change my views; they describe themselves as “hard-hitting southern fried electric rock” which hints at their influences and intentions. I defined their sound as a little more diverse…imagine hints of Free, pre-’87 Whitesnake, mixed with early Rainbow and Foghat with a helping of Blackfoot and The Allman Brothers. This release, however, does not have quite so many ‘borrowed’ riffs or motifs and is actually the better for it. They are about to embark on their first tour across the UK and Europe, hence this re-issue.

Opener Rise to the Mountain is a seven-minute opus and an excellent bluesy mix of Allman Brothers and country, thanks to the inventiveness of the then recently recruited guitar player Jimmy Rose. It also gives the opportunity to hear the contributions of the whole band as the bass and drums are easily picked out thanks to the quality production. The bridge is where the country really comes in with its very definite Southern Country feel and laid back solo and then guitar harmonies. After the needle hits the record sound effect, there is a start reminiscent of Nazareth’s version of Vigilante Man on the next track, Leavin’ Out The Backside. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this is not an anthem to ‘builders crack’…it is a bluesy country rock until they add in some Thin Lizzy style guitar harmonies toward the end… and, despite the title, there’s not a bum note here! Over For You Know It is in the pure rock vein, despite the twang in the lyrics: a rapid riff driven song with a great ascending/descending phrasing. A neat guitar solo takes us to the fade on this short and sweet song.

Where Have You Gone has a Rainbow riff with an extra couple of notes cleverly added and yet, particularly when we get the solo, it all comes together as new and actually pretty damn good. Hogjaw’s softer side is illustrated nicely in the eight and a half minute Eagles sounding I Will Remain as the first section builds nicely to a great solo and instrumental section. Fire, Fuel and Air is back in the blues-rock mould with a great guitar and bass stamp that makes me think that maybe Brothers Osborne et al listened to these guys for inspiration. Another Day is the weakest track as it follows the same template as Over For you Know but without that track’s edginess. Second to None has a riff that is, if you can envisage it, Free crossed with Rainbow, and it’s stuffed with plenty of “whoa’s” (and some “fee-fi-fo-fums” too) for the crowd to sing along to in the chorus and a class solo to wrap it all up. The Smoker sounds like Thunder and the Faces got together for a bit of fun and rock and roll, especially after the tempo change and solo toward the end. Final track, Grey Skies, has an acoustic start along the lines of nearly every Blackmore’s Night song, but then a lap-steel begins to slide around it and changes the direction to make you appreciate the true originality of the song and the band.

So, here we have a band with many influences, which they draw on and yet somehow maintain individuality throughout. It does take a couple of listens to fully appreciate their depth, skills and direction but this is a good band…no they aren’t revolutionary, but they do deliver slab after slab of solid blues rock and are very easy to like.

EIGHTpawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN …

Track Listing:

  1. Rise To The Mountain
  2. Leavin’ Out The Backside
  3. Over For You Know It
  4. Where Have You Gone
  5. I Will Remain
  6. Fire, Fuel, Air
  7. Another Day
  8. Second To None
  9. The Smoker
  10. Grey Skies

 

Musicians:
JB (Jonboat) Jones: vocals, guitar
Jimmy Rose: lead guitar
Elvis DD: bass
Kwall: drums

Hogjaw Rise To The Mountains in retrospect

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