Listening and write about so much music each week, it’s easy for some releases to get lost in the shuffle. As much as it pains me to say it, I often find myself listening to an artist based on the recommendation of a label or press release. In saying that, I’m fortunate enough to have good relations with a few indie labels to where I know just about every release will be top-notch. Soul Step Records is one of those labels. I’ve covered more releases from them than any other label and I generally have a good idea what to expect when I receive one of their records. Well, except when I dropped the needle on Calculations/Rock and Roll from Johnny Conqueroo.
While Soul Step has worked with a pretty diverse group of bands and artists, I feel like no matter what, it’s gonna be soulful, honest, and warm. Calculations/Rock and Roll are all of those things but in a totally different way.
“Calculations” kicks things off with gnarly guitars and wall-of-racket drums just like any and all garage rock should, but with so much attitude and poise, it needs to be heard to be believed! For a band that hasn’t been around that long, this Lexington, Kentucky trio feel as if they’ve seen every fad in the mainstream rock come and go. It’s like Iggy Pop had a one night stand with Kurt Baker and had Johnny Conqueroo out of wedlock. Of course, I say that in the most endearing way possible.
Side B’s “Rock and Roll” doesn’t experiment with a change of pace like many bands do with B-sides. Instead, Johnny Conqueroo leans harder into what makes “Calculations” so good. And just when you think the track has done all it can do to get you off your feet, there’s a surprise brass ensemble in the chorus like frosting on an already amazing cake.
The best part about this release? I don’t know anything about Johnny Conqueroo other than they’re from Lexington. I don’t know when they started, how many other releases they have, or any of the member’s names! For all I know, Johnny Conqueroo could be the name of the band and not the charismatic frontman. Despite my lack of knowledge, Calculations/Rock and Roll is already one of my favorite releases of the year. I had no preconceptions or previous releases to judge it upon just something brand new heard for the very first time. It’s being introduced to The Stooges or The Kinks. You can’t explain it but you either love or hate it.
In this case, I’m in love. After hearing only two songs as of writing this article, I’m completely sold on Johnny Conqueroo. If you like rock n’ roll and I was a betting man, I’d lay any amount of money down that you will have the same experience with this release.
For more info on Johnny Conqueroo, visit JohnnyConqueroo.com
To purchase Calculations/Rock and Roll on limited edition vinyl, visit Soul Step Records