Johnny Conqueroo are no strangers to Capture Kentucky. We’ve had the unique opportunity to watch these young men grow into a dynamic trio that can hold their own on any stage. We weren’t the only folks watching them grow. Turns out that Soul Step Records had their eyes and ears on Johnny Conqueroo.
Soul Step Records signed a deal with the band to release a 7″ vinyl single, to pair with their EP titled ‘Taking It Easy’. That EP and vinyl both drop on Friday, December 6th and we were given early access to share our opinion and help spread the word.
Johnny Conqueroo has never been a band that conforms to or chases a particular sound. Their ability to write songs from blues, rock, punk, pop and even soul, elevates the band in a truly unique way. ‘Taking It Easy’ contains four new songs. “Calculations”, “Rock And Roll”, “Only Child”, and the title track “Taking It Easy.”
So before we begin dissecting these songs, let’s take a look back at how these fellas have evolved to this point.
My first introduction was a random article in the Lexington Herald-Leader that I found online. Frontman and guitarist Grant Curless was featured in an article that discussed his fashion sense and how he gets a lot of his clothes from his Grandmother’s closet. It’s likely the strangest way that I’ve ever found a band, but from that day forward, I have kept checking in on the band and I’ve yet to be disappointed.
The very first notes from “Night In Jail” on their first EP was all I needed to reel me in. Hearing a young man playing the blues with soul and using a slide….Hook, line and sinker. Game over.
“Night In Jail”
As the band began to evolve and grow, they released an album titled ‘Washed Up’. There were elements of the bluesy debut, but things shifted to a more driving and rhythmic sound. I attribute that to the growth of bassist Shawn Reynolds and drummer Wils Quinn. Those two helped push the band to the point where they were comfortable with writing songs that they enjoyed playing and in the process, gained them some great festival dates, finally gaining the support they deserve. Let me know if you get a little Jim Morrison and The Doors vibe on “The Key”
Next came the EP ‘Haint Blue’. This was their first time working with producer Duane Lundy and ‘Haint Blue’ was their most cohesive release. I really enjoyed that aspect, but I’m not 100% behind the notion that cohesiveness fits the Johnny Conqueroo mold. I enjoy having no clue where the direction of each song is gonna take me, which is also why their performances are a must-see. I’ll drop “Brick” from ‘Haint Blue’ for ya below.
That brings us up to speed and we can now shift our attention to ‘Taking It Easy’. Let’s discuss “Calculations” first. If you need a song to use as an introduction to Johnny Conqueroo, “Calculations” is your Huckleberry. The track conjures up the spirit of those early Rolling Stones albums but stays true to the path they’ve chosen. This one will win over a ton of new fans.
Next we have “Only Child”. I have said in the past, that Johnny Conqueroo would fit into any Quentin Tarantino film. “Only Child” is the personification of that very statement.
“Only Child” jumps off the line at full throttle and never looks back. It is a frantic ride that comes to a screeching hault with a blood curdling scream from Grant Curless. Music is meant to move you, and you could say that “Only Child” straps you in and hauls a$$ until the band decides it’s time for you to exit.
The next track is “Rock And Roll”. This song is more so about attitude than anything else. It’s brash, it’s rough around the edges, it’s in your face and it packs one helluva punch live. I have a feeling this one will be a set staple for a long time.
“Rock And Roll”
Finishing off the EP is the title track “Taking It Easy.” This song is one that I’ve seen the band perform a couple times, but this recording takes it up several notches because of a few special guests.
I have admitted that I’m an absolute pushover when a song contains a horn section. Well I’ll be, would you look at that, “Taking It Easy” has a horn section, but not just any horn section. Nope, this one features the players in Joslyn and the Sweet Compression. While that’s an amazing fact, they are not the only guests on the track. Ms. Joslyn Hampton adds backing vocals as well.
If you’re new to Joslyn and the Sweet Compression, I’ve dubbed her the Queen of Kentucky. She has the biggest, baddest voice in our Commonwealth and there is no other band doing the soulful funk inspired music like them.
“Don’t You Bother”
Johnny Conqueroo was able to snag Joslyn’s horn section for two songs on the EP, “Rock And Roll” and “Taking It Easy.” They also secured Marty Charters to help with the arrangement of “Taking It Easy”. Marty is the guitarist for Joslyn and the Sweet Compress.
Needless to say, this collaboration was well worth the wait. If you’re in or around Lexington on Friday, December 6th, head on over to the Burl and catch Johnny Conqueroo’s EP release party! Unfortunately I can’t make the show, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t, so pick up your tickets here and join the party!!