When Montreal band The Holds felt the need to record their first full-length album, they got out of the city and sought the isolation that only a cottage can bring. Soaking up the stories imbedded in the wood, they laid down a record inspired by the music that founded rock-n-roll. Infused with blues, Motown and music created well before their collective ages, they named it Juke.
A Juke Joint was a rowdy establishment which featured drinking, music, gambling and more drinking. What a fitting name for an album that jumps out at you and pulls you into their private party.
It was only fitting that I listen to the album while at the chalet, surrounded by the quiet a lake brings to the soul. In this environment, the first notes of “Fix” transported me right to a Juke Joint, packed and sweaty, patrons dancing in wild abandon. Cranking up the volume, my body started to move in that slow, cool swagger that only a blues song can deliver.
“Waste of Time” was just as catchy as the first track, but with the Motown sound creeping up from the floorboards. As the song slowly fades away, “Move” starts with a mellower tone, a hint of country music oozes out. Three songs in and I haven’t stopped moving. Sure…I’m sitting behind a laptop, typing this out…but my head is moving just as much as my fingers. “Can’t you see I’ve got to move”, Ryan sings, I agree and comply.
“Too Late” keeps that mellow vibe going, but that Stevie Wonders vibe brings instant cool to the song. I’m right back at the Juke Joint, and I can see the multi-colored crowd unable to stand still. The backup singers just make the Motown sound come alive.
“Ready or Not” hints at AC/DC guitar riffs as it opens, but moves quickly to a bluesy number. The guitar solo cements the song as a strong contender to the track most likely to get you out of your seat and onto the dance floor.
“Give n Take” keeps that old sound, yet seems fresh and new. Just as catchy as the other songs on the album. It warns us to “turn the dial all the way up. It ain’t a thing, without that swing. You feel it way down below.”
That last line sums up the album up to this track. The youthful energy takes the sound of the past and gives it a new life, an outlet to pay homage to the past, yet create a new future. I respect that these boys are anchored to the past, but don’t let the past drag them down. They elevate that sound, make it fresh and relevant again.
“Sunrise” brings the blues back, but like they say: “Nothing ever stays the same.” This album is a collage of the past, tied together by a common thread, but each song can stand on its own. You can hear the sounds of the cold winter wind sweeping outside the cottage as they record this, a contrast to the mental picture of the packed Joint swaying with sweaty patrons, letting loose at the end of another hard day on the job.
“Gonna Love You” is another song that I can image, played live, will bring out the most stubborn of non-dancers like me. The half-way point is where an invisible string would tug at my dancing shoes and not let go, until I absorbed that guitar solo and let it guide my embarrassing white boy dance moves.
“Turn it Up” begs us to use 11 on our volume knob. That swampy slow bluesy number digs deep into your soul, attaching its hooks, once again on that part of me that refuses to budge…only to get me swaying again, against my will.
“Back Home” was going to be the track I diss. I had to find one track, at least, to give a balanced review. Unfortunately, it also won me over, proving to me that this album was solid, through and through. I still have three tracks to find something negative, so for our dear readers, I will try my best, but I’m afraid the entirety of this release might not have a weakness I can expose.
“Keep it Going” is an energetic song that delves into the slow blues to slow it down towards the end, only to bring the energy right back. Can’t fault this one as well.
“You Could Use Me” gives us a much needed rest from the intensity of the last few songs. The organ solo makes this another song I enjoyed.
“Feel”, the last track on the album seems out of place. Alas, is this the song I can finally criticize on this strong debut album? It feels modern, in a way the other songs bring out a reverence from the past. But somehow, it’s the bridge between the past and the present. It ties the whole album into a package of energy, soulful introspection and the longing that only the blues can fill.
Juke manages to capture the past, but package it in a modern, catchy 13 tracks that only a live show can surpass. That is why I will be attending the August 25th, 2018 album launch at Petit Campus. I will hold out for as long as I can from dancing, but I fear the show will bring us all to our feet and a Juke Joint will live again, minus the gambling. If I was a gambling man, I would bet that this show will be one NOT to be missed. That passion and energy will be released so you can finally hear what I heard today. A solid and mature album that can make even the most stubborn non-dancer like me sway to its power.
The Holds / Juke Album Launch + Lea Keeley & Celina Wolfe at Petit Campus on Saturday August 25th, 2018 (20h00).
Doors 8 PM, Show 9 PM
Tickets: $10 which includes a download code for the album.
I dare you not to dance.