Raw Mojo

Gamblin’ Girl/ DW Records, 2009

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


Iowa probably doesn't appear to most as a hotbed of musical talent. If you've been there, you can certainly attest to the endless expanse of cornfields jam packed between gravel roads joining the small towns. Of course, there are cities scattered throughout the state, Des Moines and Davenport both holding their own against most highly populated areas in the Midwest, but if you visit any other area in the state, you're likely to have a good amount of space between you and next person.

Maybe it's just this type of isolation in Iowa that has bred some really talented bands as of late. In the metalcore scene, For Today has become one of the most noted names, while in the indie rock world, Unknown Component has been plugging away under the radar for years. Iowa City trio Raw Mojo are yet another rising band from the Midwest, the trio fusing a gritty and powerful blend of rock, blues, punk, and garage rock into a quick listen of infectious riffage and charged basement rock. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Veins leads off with “Decay,” which is one of the best tracks here with its driving guitar work and female vocals that are complemented by gruff male backing vocals. It's a solid alt-rock tune that sounds like it could have been sandwiched between a Local H and Seaweed video on 120 Minutes circa 1993. The following track, “Satan's Floor,” slows the tempo, yet builds into a blast of furious energy toward that end. Though Miss Nikki takes the lead on vocals through much of this, on tracks like “Dethroned” and “Punk” Dan Bee's raw voice is at the forefront, the latter reminding me of Page Hamilton (from Helment) spearheading a garage rock band.

With the absence of any studio tricks, effects, or computer-generated fluff, this is a straight up rock 'n' roll disc with plenty of catchy hooks and memorable choruses. The almost blues like feeling of “Hollywood,” the stop and go dynamics of “Eddie G,” and the closing ballad “Take Her Away” add some diversity, though to be honest, if every song here followed the formula of loud guitars and bombastic drumming evident on a good chunk of Veins, you wouldn't hear me complain.

To say that Raw Mojo is a decent band that no one has ever heard of would be doing them a disservice. To say that Veins is a fantastic effort that anyone with an interest in grunge, garage, or alt-rock will appreciate is more accurate. The band has a new album coming out this fall – keep an ear out, these Iowans deserve to be heard.

Rating: B+

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© 2012 Tom Haugen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Gamblin’ Girl/ DW Records, and is used for informational purposes only.