I took a night off last night and it was glorious but back to the grind today. My constantly growing stack of music to review has reached the point where I had to buy a whole new shelf to keep it on as my desk wasn’t big enough. You know what that means– time for a new music binge starting with Johnny Mafia’s ‘Sentimental’.
A distorted guitar starts “Split Tongue” and drew me in with ease before I got blast by shouting and slamming drums. If you’ve ever wondered how to best kick off an album, Johnny Mafia has it on lock. This opening track is powerful and so full of energy and attitude that it instantly had me sold on whatever else was going to happen throughout this thirteen-song album. I was super lost in this undeniable sense of energy that gave me a blast of motivation that I was a little lost for words as the album quickly moved onto “I’m Sentimental”. I had heard this track a couple of months ago and it’s what had me intrigued about Johnny Mafia. Just like the opening track, this album is so full of attitude and energy, it’s impossible to not find yourself stuck in the palm of this band’s hand.
“Aria” continues with the relentless blast of energy and power while somehow bringing something a bit more classic to the table. There’s an almost surf-rock beat in this track that instantly reminded me of bands like Fidlar and DZ Deathrays. Again, this is still absolutely in your face music but there’s just something a bit more laid back about the beat in this track that I found myself falling head over heels for. Just when I got used to this more laidback vibe, the album shifted into “Phone Number” which had just a hint more aggression to it than the previous tracks. This made it an instant favorite of mine.
It’s as if Johnny Mafia doesn’t want you to get too comfortable with a certain style because everything changed as “Trevor Philippe” took over my speakers. Again, a more retro vibe comes with this track like “Aria” but this time it’s in the style of Weezer. If you’re not a Weezer fan, you’ll probably hate this track but, lucky for Johnny Mafia, I am a huge Weezer fan so this track hit the spot. Although there’s definitely another shift in mood between “Trevor Philippe” and “Refused”, it’s not as dramatic as some of the others. “Refused” has a very infectious beat to it with screaming and fuzzy guitars at times that had me completely captivated. I was completely lost in the motion of this track that I had to go back and listen to it again before I could move onto “Love Me Love Me”.
That Weezer sound comes back with a vengeance for “Love Me Love Me” in all of the right ways. Although this track and “Trevor Philippe” made me think of Weezer instantly, there’s still a twist to the sound that can only be described as Johnny Mafia and that’s what makes this band stand out to me. Sure, you can sit there listening to this album and pick out some strong influences but they are never dead on. Johnny Mafia has a distinct and fun sound that just can not be compared to a sole band or musician.
“Problem” has a lot of cool sounds that kick off the tracks. It almost sounds extraterrestrial before the vocals come in with an almost Saves The Day vibe. This was another instant favorite of mine because of that nod to Saves The Day (whether it was supposed to be there or not). This is an anthemic track that I could listen to on repeat for hours but the album quickly moved onto “TV & Disney” and its garage-rock vibe. This is another super fast-moving track that is full of attitude and energy. Unfortunately, I have no lyrics to read along to and I was so busy listening to everything else and getting the overall vibe that I didn’t catch the words but the song title has me intrigued and I would love to see what this song is actually about!
I’m realizing that we only have four tracks left on this album and I have yet to get a slow or sad song. That’s not a complaint, just an observation. “No More Toes” does bring a more hollow sound to the album but it’s far from a slow song and it’s still just as powerful as the previous ones but the attitude and aggression seems to be put to the side for this track giving you a glimpse into another side of Johnny Mafia but only for a track. “Nail Gun” brings back that attitude and then some. There’s a swagger in this track that I didn’t hear in the previous tracks and instantly wanted more of. There’s almost a bitter edge with the words on this one that I found super intriguing and powerful.
It’s almost as if the band knew I was going to write that part about no slow songs on this album. Again, I wouldn’t consider “Ushuaia” a slow song per se, but there just seems to be a bit more tenderness shown throughout the vocals and instrumentation in this track. It’s still just as powerful as all of the previous tracks but the more distorted and sludgy guitar work just made it feel a bit more slow-moving than the rest. That was probably a blessing since this is the second to last track on the album and I honestly don’t want the journey to end.
Ending this brilliant piece of art is “On My Knees”. This final track really wraps up the album in a perfect way. It starts off with a more hollow vibe like that in “No More Toes” before ramping into an anthemic and boppy track. Although a little slower than I would have preferred for a final song, I liked how it brought a sense of closure to this album even though I never really wanted it to end.
My Favorite Track(s): “Phone Number”; “Problem”
For Fans Of: Weezer; Surf-Rock Vibes; Infectious Beats
Dance-Ability: 8 out of 10
What My Cats Thought Of It: Artie laid behind me on the rug; Autumn slept in the basement
How Badly I Want To See This Performed Live: 8 out of 10
My Overall Rating: 8.2 out of 10
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