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Blues Traveler, Blow up the Moon (Loud and Proud Records)




Blues Traveler, Blow up the Moon (Loud and Proud Records)
CD Reviews: March 19, 2015

03/19/15
By Eric Saeger news@hippopress.com



Blues Traveler, Blow up the Moon (Loud and Proud Records)

The 1990s didn’t produce a whole lot of bands that could pull off a real whiz-bang Allmans-level jam, but this band can. It wasn’t until I saw them live that the truth hit home, that frontman/harmonica player John Popper isn’t just a songwriting hack who moonlights as a Howard Stern foil; the guy has to be one of the best harp players in history, working out long, extended solos in which he keeps up with his lead guitarist note-for-note. It’s really quite the thing. Albums, though, are a different ball of wax, especially when singles are the game, so I had no idea what to expect with regard to this record, which is advertised as a reinvention of sorts, always a scary statement when the band in question is knocking on their pearl anniversary. “Hurricane” begins things with an almost boyband vibe, a ska-for-dummies beat retrofitted with cooler sound effect-age than Coldplay could throw together, but the too-orderly bridge section sounds like music to shop at Kmart by and thankfully isn’t long. The title track permits the Sublime comparisons you could already feel in your bones, but it’s not as cool as that might sound, owing to a weak chorus that Popper’s harp tries to save later, but without enough length. Oh, and the fade sucks. Then comes “Castaway,” with some smarmy one-drop that rivals Big Mountain’s old Frampton cover for seaside carnival usability. Get it? It’s Blues Traveler’s reggae statement, a bit — scratch that, way too commercial, but don’t let that kill it for you. A- — Eric W. Saeger





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