ALCATRAZ SHAKEDOWN-LIGHT THE CANNONS
Let me start by saying this review is a long time coming, well maybe a month or so, but at any rate, this EP has been out for a minute. Next, this is not a review you the readers are used to me doing. The only other time I have done a review of this sort was actually Eric Bolander’s solo album last year. He also just happens to be the singer of this band. I came to know of Eric a few years ago when I went to a festival in Lexington, KY. His set was so good that I missed the performer I went to see. Since that day I have followed Eric and his musical endeavors. Alcatraz Shakedown is his main vehicle for music and it is just as mind-blowing as his solo work. This is a release I see myself really getting behind this year and I’m willing to bet this is not the last time you see it here on Tuned Up.
Growing up I was introduced to a lot of different music from family and friends. I got the blues, soul, hip-hop and pop from my family. One of my fondest memories of my childhood was going to my grandmother’s and she always had music playing. I recall her having a vast collection of vinyl and I was just mesmerized by the music coming from her speakers. Artists such as BB King, Little Richard, Bobby Blue Bland, and Otis Redding filled the air while visiting with her and I loved it. Then I had an uncle that played Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and The Dead. Of course, there was my mom, that is where my pop came from. Good 80s pop. As I got older my friends started influencing my musical tastes. From there it was wide open. So it’s no surprise that every once in a blue moon, a release like this catches my ears. Alcatraz Shakedown are one of those bands that takes me back to a happier time, to a simpler time.
Alcatraz Shakedown are a 4 piece rock band from Lexington, KY that invokes many sounds on their latest EP Light the Cannons. The most prominent are a blues sound courtesy of Stephen Stump and the aforementioned Eric Bolander. One can tell that these two guitarists are well educated in the ways of The Blues. You don’t have to wait that long into the EP to get a sampling of this, as the first track, “Contemplate” is very blues based. It at times has a Black Keys feel to it, which is not a bad thing at all. As this is the first track you are also exposed to the soulful vocals, which adds another element to not only this song but the album as well. The track “Rusted Bones” is one of those songs that I talk about from time to time that serve as a time machine for me. When I hear this song I’m transported either to the old west or the south. I can’t decide which one but both are good. The other aspect I like about this song is it reminds of having a blue collar life, that’s a life I don’t know much about but one that I have always dreamt about. So this song resonates with me on a few levels. “Yesterday Eve” starts with a killer riff that instantly has my head going back and forth. If there is a true rock track on this album, it would be this one. It has a 70s garage rock/hard rock feel to it. And I am all over it. This track very well might be my favorite. It’s one of those songs that one can get lost in, as long as you allow that to happen.
Alcatraz Shakedown has crafted a beautiful release, one that needs to be heard. It is one of those albums that may not grab you at first but when it does it isn’t going to let go. It’s going to stay with you. This is a band that is only going to get better with time. I already mentioned Eric Bolander and Stephen Stump but this soulful unit would not be complete without the rhythm section of Mike Webster on bass and Josh Thompson on drums. If you watch baseball then you know that the pitcher and catcher together are called the battery, well here that would be Mike and Josh. They without a doubt keep this band alive with their contributions.
I have yet to witness this powerful unit live but I can only imagine that they put on one hell of a show. I look forward to the day that I can see them perform. If that means traveling down to Kentucky in the very near future, then I shall. But this is a force I need to witness.