REVIEW: Mojothunder sharpen and step up their game on “Loose Lips” EP

By Matt Wickstrom

Mojothunder is (from left) Andrew Brockman, Sean Sullivan, Bryson Willoughby and Zac Shoopman. Photo by KY Cahill Photography

LEXINGTON, Ky. — When you think of Lexington or Kentucky music as a whole bluegrass and country are often the themes that come to mind. While our state is certainly steeped in those categorizations of music other’s are prevalent as well, namely rock. Bands such as Cage the Elephant, My Morning Jacket, The Kentucky Headhunters, Emarosa and others have made waves in recent years as their electrifying sounds echoed throughout the state, from the Appalachian mountains to the bustling cities of Lexington and Louisville to the coalfields of Eastern Kentucky.

The next band poised to latch onto the Kentucky rock train may just be Louisville by way of Lexington rock foursome Mojothunder, who take a step away from their rough around the edges garage rock past for a more polished blend of bourbon soaked rock ‘n roll on their fiery Loose Lips EP, out June 7.

The EP marks the band’s first release since dropping a pair of singles, “You Got Me Like” and “Movin’ On” in February, giving fans the first glimpse (on recordings) of new lead vocalist Sean Sullivan, who was unveiled as the band’s newest member at a November 2018 show at The Burl. Sullivan’s presence breathes a new life into the group with his rangy, genre-bending voice that perfectly fits into the band’s raucous southern rock aesthetic, now with a soul and blues flare. Mojothunder’s core of Bryson Willoughby on guitar, Andrew Brockman on bass and Zac Shoopman on drums have long had a tight, instrumental groove, with the addition of Sullivan at last giving the band the crisp, energetic vocals to match.

The EP kicks into overdrive from the get-go with title track “Loose Lips,” ripe with hot and heavy guitar from Willoughby about a relationship turned sour due to one party not being able to keep things to themselves. In the song Sullivan quickly goes from proclaiming “Have you ever loved somebody / Like the stars love the southern sky / Have you ever felt so good baby / Like a bird flying oh so high” to “Loose lips sink ships and your’s is sinking fast / Our love was not supposed to last / You shoot fire from your eyes straight to the wood / I wouldn’t love you baby even if I could.”

Preview the first minute of “Loose Lips” below ahead of next Friday’s release.

The theme of love lost continues on “Fine (Ever Since The Day You Left),” which touches on being in a relationship where one person is undervalued and almost for granted, with bluesy instrumental break downs backed by Sullivan’s soulful vocals paving the way. Finally on the outside of the endeavor and looking back, Sullivan shares moments of clarity from the experience, opening the song saying “I’ve been looking to sanctify / But you only love yourself” to later exclaiming “I discovered all your lies / But I told you only truths,” all leading to a breaking point where he belts out “I’ve been fine (ever since the say you left).”

From there Mojothunder turn up to blues to ten on “Queen of the Night,” a fiery tune about a cold-hearted woman who has all eyes fixated on her the moment she enters a room, yet has a bite so fierce that it turns most men away or makes them wither into submission. As Sullivan puts it “She’s sinking her fangs down deep within / Turning me on to the life of sin / Her red hair waving right through the light / The monster is coming out tonight,” leading to this “Queen of the Night” luring unsuspecting men with her siren call into thinking they’ll get what they want, when in reality she’s the only one getting their way.

The band’s high-flying antics continues on “Ain’t the One to Save,” a story about someone living life on the edge on their own terms as another tries to reel them in, with Sullivan at one point acknowledging that the “Preacher’s daughter can’t handle me / Says I raise too much hell / I say sin sets you free / She says only God can tell.” The unpredictable nature of the song’s subject manifests itself in the band on the song, in which Willoughby fires up perhaps his most electrifying and elongated guitar solo of the entire EP mixed in with a head-banging drum sequence from Shoopman and groovy baseline from Brockman.

If the EP’s first four tracks were a champagne bottle being shaken up, then the project’s final track, a cover of Sam and Dave’s timeless 1966 hit “Hold On” I’m Coming” is the metaphorical cork shooting off the bottle. The performance features an immediate fury of guitar from Willoughby, later joined by the added touch of Sullivan on a Hammond B3 organ, which producer David Barrick had on-site at his studio.

Recorded at Barrick Recording Studio in Glasgow, Loose Lips does a fantastic job capturing Mojothunder’s raw live sound and energy, making the experience from listening to it not far off from the real thing.

Speaking of the real thing, Mojothunder will celebrate the release of “Loose Lips” with a celebratory show at The Burl on June 7 with edgy Lexington rock outfit Ivyrye and Bowling Green’s sugadaisy. Additionally, Mojothunder’s Sean Sullivan and Bryson Willoughby will join me on Monday, June 3 as part of episode 69 of Wick’s Picks on Lexington Community Radio to discuss and listen to the Loose Lips EP.

Loose Lips Track Listing

  1. Loose Lips
  2. Fine (Ever Since The Day You Left)
  3. Queen of the Night
  4. Ain’t the One to Save
  5. Hold On, I’m Coming (Sam and Dave cover)

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