John The Conqueror – John The Conqueror
I’m probably not the first to draw comparisons between Philadelphia based blues trio John the Conqueror and their better known Ohio-via-Nashville counterparts The Black Keys. Both bands’ trademark sound is based around laid back, loose funky blues riffs, laconic drumming, and succinct song writing that takes less than a minute to fall in love with.
One thing is clear though, John the Conqueror are no copyists. It’s obvious from the first few bars of their self titled debut album that the band’s blues credentials are truly in place; their take on juke-joint boogie and swagger is, if anything, more authentic than that of Messrs Auerbach and Carney. Even the band’s name is taken from an African-American folk hero close to the hearts of the deepest blues practitioners.
Guitarist/vocalist Pierre Moore hails from the blues heartland of Jackson, Mississippi, as does his cousin Michael Gardner (drums). The addition of Ryan Lynn on bass adds some northern (Philly) soul to the southern grit, making for an album with raw blues at its core, though it’s also informed by southern rock, gospel and even punk.
Album Opener ‘I Just Wanna’ begins with hand claps and vocal chants before it’s simple lusty plea for affection kicks in with the band backing. ‘Southern Boy’ is a tune that could have been written by Black Sabbath if they’d be devil-fearing as opposed to devil-loving. ‘Lucille’ and ‘ All Alone’ are the tracks most likely to draw those Black Keys comparisons, all slinky grooves and warm-toned riffage.
‘Time To Go’ begins as a gospel infused yet decidedly non-sanctified song about a “nineteen-year old” girlfriend before borrowing the chord sequence from The Faces’ ‘Stay With Me’ for its second half. ‘Say What You Want’ is a snarly garage-punk rocker that’s sure to seal the deal, followed by ‘Come Home With Me’ which echoes ’70s-style classic rock.
‘Passing Time’ sees the band recycle some John Lee Hooker licks to good effect, with album close ’3 More’ rounding things off, rallying cry of blues-based rock. If there’s any justice it shouldn’t be long before John The Conqueror are playing bigger and better shows. On the strength of this album it’s only fair.
Click here for John The Conqueror’s website.