Album review: The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – “Freedom Tower – No Wave Dance Party 2015”

[star rating=”7.5″ max=”10.0″]


For close to 25 years, the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion has been blending blues (of course), punk and funk with reckless abandon, and their new album “Freedom Tower” kicks it up a notch. If James Brown had been a punk, and played with the ferocity of Iggy Pop, we’d have the perfect model for this band. With only one of the 13 tracks clocking over 4 minutes, this is a fast and furious rock/blues album (with some traces of hip hop), and even the less frantic tunes still possess a contagious swagger.

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion (Photo by Danny Hole)
The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion (Photo by Danny Hole)

“Freedom Tower” is a concept album of sorts, as the New York City trio paints a portrait of the seedy underside of the city through various characters and NYC icons. The band described it best saying “it’s all here: The Hustler and The Trust Fund Baby, the Mosh Pit Casualty, the Celebrity Chef, the Crooked Cop, the Struggling Artist, the Sucker MC, the forgotten Sex Workers and Last-Chance Cinderellas. Within these grooves are cold-water tenements, blue-chip galleries, dingy Avenue B studios, and the last real warrior poet whose dark magick brings garage rock ghosts back from the grave!”

The band rehearsed and polished the album by playing secret gigs all over town in small, seedy venues, and it shows. There is a lively feel to it, and a confidence that oozes from every note. It’s dirty, distorted and unpolished, but it wouldn’t work any other way. It’s a super fun record that will explode into your own No Wave Dance Party.

If you’re feeling really retro, Burger Records will be putting out a cassette version of FREEDOM TOWER on April 7. The album comes out March 24th on CD, Digital and Vinyl.


Jean-Frederic Vachon
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