CD: 10 Songs; 41:06 Minutes
Styles: Contemporary Electric Blues Rock, Contemporary Electric Rock
If people consult a thorough dictionary, one that lists a word’s etymology as well as its definition, they’ll find out something interesting about the word “ambivalent”. It was coined in 1910 by Swiss psychologist Eugen Bleuler, from the prefix “ambi-” (meaning “both”), and “valentia” (meaning “strength”). Therefore, both conflicting feelings that constitute ambivalence are equally strong. In terms of Bridgewater, New Jersey’s Slackjaw band, and their second album It’s Always Something, blues purists might well be ambivalent about its ten original songs. On the one hand, there’s lots of electric guitar razzle-dazzle, and songs that’ll excite partygoers. On the other hand, only one sole track is traditional blues. The rest are either amalgamations of blues and rock (“Carried by Six”, “New Addiction”) or straight up rock-and-roll (“Cold Day in Hell”, “Whiskey Lane”). Slackjaw’s sound is likable, and the band has good flow and chemistry when it comes to their musicianship. The ambivalence comes in when one wants Muddy Waters’ sound and hears tunes that resemble John Mellencamp’s and Blues Traveler’s.
Their promotional info sheet reveals: “Slackjaw has managed to turn quite a few heads in the past couple years, after their debut self-titled CD was released in 2011…John Thompson, Randy Marinelli, and Carl Capodice have been weekend warrior veterans of the local music scene for years, and have joined forces to create a sound that is all their own. These guys have gone beyond their ‘local legend’ status, performing and sharing the stage with such artists as Johnny Winter, the Edgar Winter Group, Billy Cox from the original Band of Gypsys [no, that’s not a typo, merely artistic license], The Pat Travers Band, Rick Derringer, Bernie Worrell, Vinnie Lopez from the E Street Band, Samantha Fish, Eric Steckel, John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band, Indigenous, and more. The airwaves are also starting to get a taste of Slackjaw, especially Centenary College Radio WNTI, and WDVR in Sergeantsville. The stations want more, and so do the listeners. Slackjaw is cultivating a fast-growing popular demand!”
As mentioned above, the members of Slackjaw are John Thompson on lead guitar and vocals, Carl Capodice on bass guitar, and drummer Randy Marinelli.
The following song is the only one that sounds traditional, pleasing purists:
Track 05: “Don’t Give Me No Jive” – This slow burner features excellent fretwork and a killer bassline. “Don’t give me no jive, baby. I’ve got a bone to pick with you. You’ve been running your mouth, honey, with things that just ain’t true.” For example: “You go to church every Sunday, wearing your favorite dress, but when I asked where the church was, you forgot the [expletive] address.” For some betrayed lovers, truer words were never spoken.
Oddly enough, the catchiest track on the album is “Bottle of Whiskey”, a country-rock sing-along. “I’m going to drink this bottle of whiskey ‘cause I want to,” the trio sings with more regret than glee. Even though it’s not blues, it’ll get people tapping their toes.
It’s Always Something – in this case, it’s more rock than blues!