There is a spirit that permeates Come On Angels! , the debut album from Philadelphia based Mighty Joe Castro & The Gravamen, and that spirit is of the wonderful melodic sounds of American music during the 1ate 1950s and early 1960s.
Listen to this record and you will hear echoes of surf, cool jazz, doo-wop, soul, and most prominently rockabilly. Castro and his bandmates take all of these variations of early rock and roll culture, mash them together, and put a fresh shine on them much like what one would do to a restored ‘57 Cadillac.
While there are echoes in varying degrees of artists such as Duane Eddy, Ricky Nelson, Buddy Holly, Dion, Gene Vincent, Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley, and Johnny Cash, to name just a few, this is not an effort hampered by nostalgia or oldies envy.
The lean sound and brawny lyrics that this band presents to us the listener on this record admirably honor the past while at the same time uses the magical music from days gone by as a base to create their own imaginative and original 21st century sound.
Highlights include the anthemic and impassioned titular track, in which includes the rock and roll mantra inspired words“ I wanna be more than background music to my own life”, the intense rockabilly scorcher “June (90 Degrees)”, in which Castro sounds like a reincarnated version of Perkins as a sneering punk rocker and the soulful “For Every Setting Sun”, which sounds like an instant rock and roll existential classic for 2020 and beyond.
Mighty Joe Castro & The Gravamen is one of those bands that gently reminds you that rock and roll, given its simple and humble beginnings and ancestors, both white and black, should never get too pretentious or suffer any feelings of self-importance. To do so means that it has strayed from its spiritual base and will likely lose its power with its perspective listeners to inspire and make them want to sing along, to make them laugh and cry, and to make them irresistibly want to smile and move various parts of their body. Fortunately for us, Castro and his band with an affecting passion, do all three with Come On, Angels!.
Credits: MIGHTY JOE CASTRO vocals, guitar, DALLAS drums, H00V3R doghouse bass, backing vocals, MIKE STINGLE guitar, backing vocals, Produced by Brian McTear
Come On Angels! by Mighty Joe Castro & The Gravamen is now available on the band’s Bandcamp site.