Mojo Monkeys - Blessings & Curses
Owain Paciuszko 05/01/2011
Los Angelino trio playing vintage and hackneyed blues rock with just enough of a sense of humour to get away with it. Opening track Bodacious is as cliche riddled as it gets, with the guitar riffs and line delivery straight out of a million other backroom bar bands cranking out danceable rock and roll; 'She got the habit, she don't take no / She'll grab ahold and she won't let go' goes one predictable lyric sung, fortunately, with a wearied twinkle by guitarist Billy Watts.
Meanwhile Enough has a pleasingly laidback swagger with nicely comical percussive flourishes from David Raven that manages to float this group above the far more grating likes of rock-revivalists like Nickelback or saggy old hands like Bon Jovi; saying that, these are guys are no spring beans themselves, having logged plenty of session musician and stage time with the likes of Keith Richards, Dwight Yoakum and the Dixie Chicks.
Things go all smooth and Santana on the shuffling Can't Say No which is as sexy as a flannel and labours along painfully, lacking the charm of their more lively efforts. But what remains abundantly clear as this LP continues with tracks such as the grizzly rock stomp of Beating Dead Horses or the acoustic murmuring of Baton Rouge, is that this band operate within a cookie cutter template of blues rock that's steeped in nostalgia to the extent where it never comes close to pushing the boundaries, or even rattling the cage, and as passable and enjoyable that can occasionally be, for the most part it makes for a limited listening experience.
For every enjoyable quirk, like the humourous lyrics of In The Wind, there's a redundant stumble such as the country rattle of Californialabama, and over the course of this record's 13 tracks things do often wear thin. Still, there's occasionally a perky tune (Monkeythumb is a pleasingly shambolic number, like early Beck mixed with One Hot Minute-era Red Hot Chilli Peppers) to keep you attention just as the record is about to drift entirely into the background.
Dependable rock then from a few guys happy to play mildly diverting, upbeat and radio friendly music that's disappointingly inoffensive and occasionally sparky.