Rock and Reprise.net
EMMA JO & THE POETS DOWN HERE
Gawdam! It's Saturday night and I'm sitting here in Oregon listening to Emma Jo & the Poets Down Here thinking, hell, Kansas City ain't that far away and the Poets have to be playing somewhere, right? The old credit card in my pocket is itching--- for emergencies only--- but a music fix is an emergency of sorts and in my dreams I am on the plane, awaiting touchdown (and winning the lottery) and a quick ride to wherever they're playing because I need to see these guys play Crowded in a crowded room. It is rock's answer to CSI Miami's club scenes, lights flashing while music pulses and vibrates you into submission, only in this case it is pounding rock and not electronic sludge. I swear to God, when you turn it up you have to move just to avoid nosebleeds and a rash.
Maybe not all the tracks on The Indigo Sessions are like Crowded, but only those in the best of shape could handle a full album of full-on, stomp your feet music like this. Need a defibrillator? Just slap headphones on, hit play and the heart start will start beating. Crank it up and the molecules move on their own. If they don't, give it up. You're dead.
Crowded is not the only rocker on the album, to be sure. Two Bad Hearts is like getting beat up in a back alley, Kyle Scheel's drumming and Garrett Cox's bass pummeling you about the head and shoulders while Brett Cox's leads shred the eardrums. So Long is rockin' blues amped up, and Alive Tonite, more toward the mainstream, gets the heart pumping along the lines of, say, Boston's (if you haven't check them out, you should). And strangely enough, Cruel and Unusual is cruel and unusual, but in a good way.
The rest is straight up good ol' rock & roll, perfect for the twelve ounce curl or the mojito hop. They even take in a breath or two here and there, slowing things down to Earth speed just to prove they are neither alien nor from bizarro world. There is something to be said about music for comparison's sake (don't get me started on sequencing, something ignored by people in this digital pick-your-music-on-a-song-by-song-basis world), so when I hear rock, shall we say, less-heavy (the bluesy You Are There) lead in to the blistering So Long and then the beat-heavy, just short of manic Crowded (the garbage can cymbal smashes at the end of each chorus are icing on the manic cake), I appreciate the versatility.
The truth is, though, that they are at their best when rattling windows. Emma Jo hits her vocal stride when the beat is strong and the Poets machine gun the chords. One can only imagine what they are like when barreling down the rock highway on the same track, but it must be comparable to being steamrolled.
When I first started listening to music, the accepted gifts a la Kansas City were blues and barbeque. If stay on track, they might very well make a few lists as well.
Frank O. Gutch Jr.