Review: JD Simo – Mind Control

Nashville-based Chicagoan JD Simo is back with his latest instalment of psychedelic blues for you to get your freak on.

Opening track ‘Go Away Satan’ immediately hits us with some raw full-fat funky drums right out of the Clyde Stubblefield School of drumming. This continuous loop, played by the amazing Adam Abrashoff serves as the foundation for washes of wah wah guitar, solid bass, and howling low-fi vocals. It’s clear to me that JD is fusing elements of early delta and Chicago blues with the heavy funk and psychedelia of the 70s, a la Captain Beefheart but not as weird. Nowhere is that more apparent than on the second track ‘I’m In Love’. It’s Chicago electric blues melded with a heavy funk drum and bass track giving it real menace. I’m reminded of Muddy Waters dipping his toe into psychedelic blues on his ‘Electric Mud’ record. I think they may have invented a new genre with this song, Trance Blues! ‘Let Go’ introduces some tasty slide guitar into the mix and the delta blues influence becomes a lot more apparent. As with the previous songs, there is a solid groove and looped style to the rhythm. Hip-Hop guys take note and sample this (we are sorely lacking some heavy blues-influenced Hip-Hop).

Simo’s guitar sounds shift from reverb-drenched cleans to hairy fuzz guitar with more reverb on top, and I LOVE REVERB. ‘I Know It All’ has plenty of it. The band brings the tempo down for this one and it practically simmers with plenty of tension. I particularly like the bass on this one played by former Justin Townes Earle bassist Adam Bednarik. This Adam also produced the album.

I have a feeling JD is using a combination of his trusty Gibson ES335 and his recent love, a Fender Jazzmaster (for the guitar nerds), and his playing is clearly carved out of a love of B.B. King, Leo Nocentelli, R.L. Burnside, and Jimi Hendrix.

You can really hear the B.B. King finesse on ‘That’s When You Know You’re Down’ but two songs later on ‘Fucked Up’ we get a fuzzed-up down-tuned mess of the blues. Heavy ripped speaker sounding fuzz and crazy ‘alarm’ sounds (very Tom Morello-Esque) adding to this musical trip. The solo is JD’s most whacked out too. Throwing wah wah and slide into the mix. ‘Recovery’ rounds off the album with a slow deep groove allowing you to ‘come down’ from this wild ride.

A quick word about the production, it’s very gritty with a dirt on the tape kind of sound that adds to the raw DIY sound. Trust me, you don’t want crystal clear production on a record like this.

In conclusion, this is a blues record you could put on at a party and keep people on the dance floor. It is chock full of deep grooves, the up-tempo tracks for groovin’, and the slower ones for smoochin’! This record is such a trip, forget your mushrooms, ‘Mind Control’ is what you need!

‘Mind Control’ is available November 5th, pre-order information here.

Review – Colin Plumb

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