BY: JEREMY FLEISCHER
Considering New Orleans is the birthplace of the vast majority of the music we consider uniquely American – jazz, blues, soul, etc. – and thus the music it inspired, like rock and hip-hop, one would expect a blues-based band inspired by the city to sound a bit stale. Yet, on the first release from Fort Collins’ Johnny & The Mongrels, You Ain’t Ready, they somehow breathe fresh life into dirty, swampy blues rock. And they’re from Fort Collins!
Well, one member of the three-piece traces roots to Louisiana, but still it’s somewhat unexpected. While only six tracks, this release shows an impressive diversity, from the tender country-rock inspired organ ballad “Creole Skies” to the slap-bass, wah-wah heavy title track. Johnny & The Mongrels are not updating the swamp blues sound with intrusive additions. Mostly, they stay true to the sound. Yet, despite this adherence, they mostly avoid clichés, not sounding like a tribute band. Instead, they use the archetypes of the sound for their own purposes.
How this band emerged in Fort Collins, so far from Bourbon Street and the Treme, may not make sense. But who cares? Their music will save you a plane ticket.