Johnny Soultrain

Down on your luck? Trying to get over a recent breakup? Not sure if you’ll be able to make this month’s rent? Though Oakland-based band Johnny Soultrain sings about finding solutions to heartbreak and money woes at the bottom of a whiskey bottle, I would advise you to just listen to the music of Johnny Soultrain. Probably not a good idea for life to imitate art here, especially when their art is full of sordid drunkards, hopeless romantics and other assorted lovable losers plucked from Americana folklore.

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Their first EP Whiskey Bottle is out now and, contrary to the title, it’s more of a mixed drink, combining everything from funky beats (punchy opener “Take My Hand”) to soulful, horn accentuated ballads (“Hard Times, Hard Alcohol”) to dance-floor-shaking rock (“Boogie Man”). Indebted to The Band, the ghosts of Nashville and Stax Records, Whiskey Bottle in one sense belongs to a previous musical era, but its message remains relevant, even poignant, today: sorrow is inescapable. One too many hungover mornings can easily prove that indelible fact, but the weight of heartache can be lessened by the recklessness of rock n’ roll, its triumphant chord changes and seductive grooves.

You can lose yourself in the music, and sorrow will just have to wait until the song is over. Lose yourself in this record, and then lose yourself when the band plays Neck of the Woods in September.

Johnny Soultrain, Vinyl Spectrum, Ellisa Sun
Neck of the Woods
September 25th, 2015
9pm, $7-10 (21+)