It’s fascinating how different areas and neighborhoods of Music City bring about a different musical mindset.
East Nashville is one such locale with a wellspring of talent that typically strays from the modern and often synthetic pop-country oriented sound that penetrates the heart of the city, offering a more authentic and genuine experience to their music.
Yes, East Nashville caters to the gritty rock and rollers, the intellectual folk singers, the Americana songsters, and the like. Casey Jo and The Friday Night Dads are one such act that calls the area home, and musically, they fit right in.
Comprised of Casey Jo Stohrer (vocals, guitar) Josh Root (bass), Ethan Sims (lead guitar) and John Powelson (drums), CJFND offer a unique and powerful blend of rock and roll, blues, and a tint of Americana that seems to hit just right. Between the delightfully heavy instrumentation and blues-fueled guitar licks, to Casey Jo’s seasoned, howling vocals, the band has a lot to offer to their listeners. And yes, the music is just as fun as the band name.
CJFND just dropped their latest album, Twin Mind, a prime example of the rock and roll grit flowing within East Nashville. Head honcho Casey Jo had this to say regarding the album:
“We really wanted to showcase a blend of vintage tones and styles, and we wanted our influences to be pretty transparent on Twin Mind– like going through your parents’ teenage record collection. Recording all analog to tape with Drew Carroll at Bomb Shelter was exactly what we were looking for. From the stripped down raw blues sound of “Sisters in Prison” to the multi-layered dreamy pop tones of “Unreliable Narrator” and “Keeps Me on the Run,” we feel that this record truly captures how we feel about rock ‘n roll. We’ll be changing it up with our new songs to a more updated modern rock sound, but I’m glad we were able to write our love letter to classic rock on Twin Mind.”
So without further adieu, let’s strap on our jammy pac and go down the line.
Schrodinger’s Cat- Without wasting any time, CJFND gives you get a good feel for the heavy blues-tinged rock and roll you’re about to get yourself into. The iron is struck fast with a heavy and building rock rhythm, and we get our first taste of the vocal prowess of Casey Jo belting it out and the Dickie Betts-esque blues guitar riffs that turns up throughout. I don’t know who Schrodinger is, but this song makes me want to find out.
Telephone- Now we start getting into a groove with The Friday Night Dads and one of their premiere singles. A quick psychedelic cough leads to hi-hat hisses and a driving bass line that sets up Casey Jo, and before you know it, you “can’t do much about it/the silly games we play.” Casey Jo’s rasp-soaked vocals over the rock groove make you want to find the nearest smoking bar with a jukebox and PBR’s and a well shot for $5. Maybe that’s just how I feel anyway…
Keeps Me On The Run- Gears switch on this track, and you get more of an indie rock-meets-Americana feel from this one. From the jump it doesn’t offer that heavy grit-rock the first few songs waltzed with. And Casey Jo takes a back seat on this track, as drummer John Powelson takes the vocal reigns on this one. There’s something of a Tom Petty feel in this one, but still perhaps a bit heavier than Tom. This track delivers the catchy, singable choruses and hooks no doubt.
Kerouac- Things get poetic and literary (naturally) with this one. We get Casey Jo back on this “Kerouac” track, and the initial heavy rock gets tapered down just a touch for more of an eclectic and poetic lyrical-driving song. It’s a lighter feel at first, and a more introspective track lyrically. With the exception of the vocals, I get a bit of a Wilco feel with the alt-country rock instrumentation, especially with the guitar. This, along with the rest of this album, is a solid “on the road” jam that will take you where you need to go while feeling understood.
Unreliable Narrator- “Struck a chord so dissonant that I can’t hear/Cause I need something to get me through the night.” This too starts a bit more on the mellow side, and ultimately kicks in with something reminiscent of maybe an 80s Fleetwood Mac track. This one also feels a bit more personal and heartfelt lyrically. Regardless of the musical direction, you can always count on the guitar to be tactfully ripping and leaving its mark. This narrator may be unreliable, but Casey Jo’s singing is not.
Sister’s in Prison- Now we’re back in the saddle with this badass blues rock and roll number. I mean with a title like that you should know what’s coming- and what’s coming is a classic blues scale and roaring guitar to match. And Casey Jo once again delivers with gravel and fire, calling out for her partner in crime. Instrumentally I hear some heavy Jack White/Dan Auerbach-style piercing guitar, and once again you get a great track for a dive bar, perfect for East Nashville, The Mississippi Delta, or the vampire club in From Dusk Til Dawn.
Howl- The heavy-handed rock and roll isn’t going anywhere on this next track. Except instead of the blues feel, this delivers more of a punk punch loaded with attitude. The drums and bass again lead you into a jackhammer of sound, and you’d be hard-pressed not to buy a Harley and pack of cigarettes after listening to this one. “This time I’m on my own…”
Some Kind of Harmony- An early spring track that garnered it’s own music video, “Some Kind of Harmony” reverts back to the heavy rhythmic rock and roll, again with a White Stripes/Black Keys essence. But what separates them is the fiery and earth-shaking female-led vocals of Casey Jo. If you haven’t figured it out by now, she isn’t fucking around and neither are these Dads.
My Own Way- The final impression. The last hurrah. The ninth and final track of Twin Mind twists out of the heavy rock that was so prevalent throughout the album, and reverts back to the more Americana-rock feel, and we have no problem with it. This one flirts with an Allman Brothers-type sound, and Powelson once again takes over vocal duties to close things out. It’s a solid “bid you adieu and thanks for listening” song with messages of independence, freedom, and rock and roll.
Final Thoughts: Casey Jo and The Friday Night Dads offer a versatile and impactful sound on Twin Mind, and meld together the worlds of heavy rock and roll, blues, and Americana creating a sound fit for many. Their track arrangement leaves little to be desired, as they fire on all cylinders and make you want to listen again and again to figure out which song you like best. Whether it be the spirituous grit of Casey Jo’s vocals, or the buzz saw guitar roaring through the tracks in various forms, Twin Mind is yet another reminder that East Nashville continues to deliver the raw, unadulterated rock and roll goods.