Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Heavy Glow - Midnight Moan
With her long red dreadlocks wrapped high up on her head, my hippy neighbor from across the street stops by for a visit.
"Who's that?" she asks as soon as she walks through the door and hears the excellent blues-rock pumping from my speakers. She notices the tunes before I let her in because I have the volume up pretty high. I'm surprised I hear her knock. "Where are they from? I could totally hear them on the radio."
"I know. Right? They're called Heavy Glow," I tell her after turning the groovy-ass song down just enough for us to speak without yelling at each other. "They're from Cali. San Diego. You'd like them, I'm sure."
She doesn't hesitate and sits down, joining in the rock-fest I'm enjoying. I explain to her that she's listening to Heavy Glow's new full-length album, Midnight Moan, and what I already know about the three-piece band. I tell her how the group formed about 3 years ago and have released remarkable music about every year since. And how the new recording is legitimately FREE, along with their self-titled debut ep.
I go into detail what I know about twenty-something Heavy Glow front-man Jared Mullins after hearing his songs and exchanging a few emails with him. He's an extremely talented singer-songwriter/instrumentalist who listens to everything rock-oriented, from the 50's to the 90's. Doesn't care too much for the 80's. I let her in on the fact that the self-taught guitarist used to be the drummer with virtuoso Heavy Glow bassist Joe Brooks in another band, but later strapped on a Gibson and moved up to the mic himself. He was the one writing the songs anyway. Then I point out how Mullins and Brooks added a fantastic drummer, Dan Kurtz, on Midnight Moan and their rockin' 2010 ep, The Filth & The Fury.
My neighbor expresses that she really likes Mullins' voice, along with his guitar licks, and we bask in the light that is Midnight Moan by Heavy Glow. I let her know that I'm going to call Mullins later tonight to talk a little about the 9-song rock album. She can tell I'm excited. I really love this band.
I'm so excited I blow it and forget most of what I wanted to ask, but one of the very first things I have to know is: what is a Heavy Glow? I search the web for a reference but the only thing I find is a song by a band who I'm not gonna mention. Anyway, the song goes, '...standing in line to see the show tonite and there's a light on...heavy glow...'. Mullins assures me that's not where his band's name came from, but when people ask about it he always says (that group I'm not gonna mention) were writing about Heavy Glow. We share a chuckle. It was actually the name of one of the first songs the band recorded and it's featured on their first release.
Then I wanna know about the new album's title - Midnight Moan. What is that? Is that what I'm gonna make the woman do tonight? "Exactly," Mullins tells me, but adds that's it's also about a certain "longing." I think the dynamic purple and blue artwork is captivating and I ask about that, too. "Our drummer (Kurtz) came up with it. He put it all together," he said.
Midnight Moan continues the tradition of the band's previous two efforts and contains some spectacular blues-oriented rock songs. The opener, "Lose My Mind", is a prime example and gives me a Stevie Ray Vaughan flashback, but it doesn't take too long for me to learn the seductive "Slave Dance" while listening at the same time. You don't move your feet around a lot but you gotta have one foot a little forward and then you rock your hips slowly to the sexy groove. Focus about 5 feet in front of you and nod your head once every couple seconds or so. Look to the sky when the guitar solos kick in, but be sure to keep your hips shakin'. It's easy. Anyone can do it.
"All My Money", "Collide" and "Purgatory Blues" add to an already heavy dose of rock but I'm also treated to a few unexpected moments on Midnight Moan. One of my favorites is an acoustic song, "Smithereen". It's just Mullins and his 12-string on this one and it highlights his songwriting, guitar-playing and mass-appealing voice. I'm surprised when Mullins tells me he's had this one on the back-burner for a long time. "It's probably the oldest song I had written," he said, adding that he wrote it during his college years, before any of the Heavy Glow stuff. I'm delighted that he finally decided to put it out.
"Smithereen" transitions perfectly into the short and beautiful instrumental, "Midwestern Lullaby," which contains a purposely-placed bit of silence before the final song. It's the calm before the storm, if you like, because on "Diggin' a Ditch", Heavy Glow pull out all the stops. It's impossible for me to sit still during Brooks' frenzied bass lines and Kurtz's rambunctious drumming. Mullins' 'specializes in mud' here and the riffs are dirty-n-nasty. Lovin' it.
Not only do I love the music, but I can relate to many of the lyrics on this album, which bring to light Mullins' own reflection on various relationship and life issues. "I tend to write the music and bring it to the band. Everything I write is very personal," he says.
Mullins is a song-writing madman. Don't be surprised when Heavy Glow start recording more music for us early next year. The songs are already there. "They're already coming into the live set," he said.
For now, download Midnight Moan - and Heavy Glow - free from Bandcamp. Then do yourself a favor and fork out a few bucks for the band's other release, The Filth and The Fury, so you can have all their music so far.