They're back and badder than ever! If you aren't familiar with one of Philly's most prolific rock bands, Johnny Popcorn, you're missing out on some soul-stirring music.
You'll recognize one of the band's lead vocalists as Hezekiah, the very Hez who released his critically-acclaimed solo Hip Hip project Dreams Don't Chase Themselves in February 2015. Bringing her own incredible voice to the forefront is lead vocalist Marjani AKA Jani Coral, whose soulful style is at once graceful and guttural.
Rounding out the crew on guitar, bass and drums is Lloyd Alexander, Freshy and Clayton, respectively.
When you first hear the opening chords of the album on Coming Home, you instantly feel transported. The sound is reminiscent of old-school rock... if Jimi Hendrix and P-Funk got together with Lenny Kravitz and Janis Joplin and jammed for a few weeks, they may have melded into the sound that begins this LP. That isn't a stretch, the band recently opened for George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic in August of 2016.
From there, we go on a trip through so many sounds in 9 other songs, it's incredible that the album remains cohesive. That isn't a dig, a record that explores genres so deeply is not an easy feat to pull off, but Totem Pole does it with ease. There's the gospel-tinged GO GO GO!, that bears more than just a hint of country melody. There's the transcendent Fall, dressed immaculately in Jani Coral's raspy, emotive sound.
Another impressive groove on the album is The Light, reminiscent of old Prince tunes, an homage that isn't lost on die-hard fans of His Purple Majesty like myself. It feels like Prince himself wrote the chord progressions and blessed the track with his signature funk. I ask Prince connoisseurs take a listen to that song specifically and try to deny the influence.
All in all, this is one of those albums you absolutely can't ignore and should have in heavy rotation. At a time when music is undergoing a kind of renaissance in genre-bending and pushing auditory envelopes, this is an LP that should be in your collection.