Bobby Mahoney is a songwriter that has managed to create a smart balance of influential salute and independent direction. Often featured in local events including the annual Light Of Day series, Mahoney could have easily chosen the widely traveled “Thunder Road” and settled into the same career comfort that many local bands have chosen. The fact that his writing displays a restless, independent spirit and a risk-taking sense of adventure are the two reasons he initially caught my attention.
My first foray into the world of The Seventh Son came in the form of Mahoney’s 2014 release, Friends In Low Places. While not his first (he had previously released Delicate Fall From Grace and Only Ashes Remain), that was my introduction into Mahoney’s grunge-laden rock hybrid that continues to evolve with his soon-to-be-released record, The Outskirts.
Rather than following the narrative of Friends In Low Places, Mahoney and co-writer guitarist Jon Alba decided to set their focus on different subjects and characters dealing with interaction, circumstance and the world that surrounds them. Lyrical communication focuses the listener on the common bond we all share. From the complications of love to struggles of 9-5 survival, their message of “you’re not in this alone” stands tall.
Mahoney and company also took the time to think about their favorite artists and came up with an A-list combination of everything that they think makes a record get noticed. As Mahoney tells us, “I believe you should write and play the music you would want to listen to, so that’s exactly what we did. Jon and I thought about what we would want in an album from some of our favorite bands, and we just wrote a bunch of really fun tunes. It has its darker moments, but this is definitely a fun, raw, rock album.”
If you’re looking for something that has the typical sounds of the Jersey Shore, The Outskirts probably isn’t for you. The record steps far outside those boundaries, at times dancing the razor’s edge of hardcore and metal before settling into a boisterous center of raw rock and roll.
Organically produced by Mahoney and Max Aharon, The Outskirts is an unbridled ride across style, attitude and the rebellious tube-fueled angst of an artist not satisfied to tread water.
“Done” fires off a barrage of gnarly guitars, canon shot drums and fuzzed out bass. Mahoney growls into the verse in the vein of Mark Lindsey (Paul Revere And The Raiders). Fast-paced and heavy on the downbeat, “Done” brings back recollections of leather biker jackets, Les Pauls, and The Godfathers. Featuring their “Wall of Sound,” Bobby Mahoney And The Seventh Son pound the pavement in their riff-driven ode to “love ‘em and leave ‘em.” Choruses are huge, surrounded by the pentatonic pandemonium of Alba and Mahoney’s six-string work as Aharon’s bass barrage twists with the powerhouse hits of drummer James McIntosh.
Another attention grabber is “Running Away.” Utilizing a combination of punk rock rampage and the rally cry of Willie Nile, Mahoney chants and roars through tumultuous and jagged punk verses before dipping and diving into a memorable and melodic chorus. Harmonies (Mahoney, Alba, John Shepard and Kevin Dziuba) lock tight and tasty, ushering the band off of that isle of choral beauty and into their next bombastic section of snarl. At around 2:16 the bridge begins to percolate, bubbling up and over until it explodes into an octave-driven, string-scraping guitar romp that would make Steve Stevens sit up and take notice. Memorable and well executed, “Running Away” takes off with your imagination and hijacks your CD player.
Next in line is “Wings Over Brookline.” Dark romanticized lyrics roll over gritty washes of electric guitar, bass and drums as Mahoney wails the lament of the girl that always makes the wrong call. Mahoney sings, “Every night he just gets her high, and takes her to a movie from time to time.” Ah yes, we all know her, and she always picks the loser. Sung in a partying and atmospheric style, I did notice that Mahoney and the band spend all their time on the passionate charge of the tune and because of that it’s a little off-key. But unless you’re a stickler for perfect Beatles harmony, it shouldn’t bother you too much. The bass and drum work of Aharon and McIntosh pattern is a tight spotlight on “Wings Over Brookline,” and they drive this fast-paced punker over the finish line for the win.
“Ride Alone” brings forth imagery of the renegade on the road. Guitars rip rusty slide work and power chords down the middle as bass and drums pound 1980s gunslinger-tinged patterns of dangerous dexterity. Mahoney gets about as close to Bon Jovi territory as possible with this outlaw-themed tune. The lonesome drifter tears across highways and back roads in the never-ending quest of the societal getaway. “Don’t put my faith into anyone—I ride alone.” Mahoney’s vocals are as sharp as broken glass and twice as vicious. Think Bon Scott and you’d be in the ballpark direction of this leather-laced powerhouse.
The album’s namesake, “The Outskirts,” winds up, thundering the drum-dominated spectrum before dropping down into Mahoney’s opening verse. Guitars sync rhythmic incursion as everything starts to build toward the inevitable chorus. The band keeps everything in check, riding the dynamics and downplaying the first chorus so that by the time it comes back around, it’s huge. Electric guitars race in fast, delivering melodic lines alongside Mahoney’s passionate wail before doing a 360 into a blistering solo. Once again, Mahoney and crew hit you with that “Wall of Sound” as they come in strong after the bridge, building everything into a full arsenal of sing-along harmony. The outro solo is big and bell-clear, hailing the days of ’80s icon Charlie Sexton and exiting the band from this over-the-rock-and-roll-top offering with miles of style.
Bobby Mahoney And The Seventh Son continue to put hard work into a vision of independent identity, and The Outskirts is a fine and progressive vehicle that should get them even closer to that goal. The feel is extremely believable, and with the exception of a few small harmony oversights, it’s a fun-filled record that people will enjoy over and over again.
Like most bands that perform action-packed music on a disc, they need to be seen live to understand how they’ve arrived at their current destination of notoriety.
And you will be able to do just that on July 18 at The Saint in Asbury Park. Bobby Mahoney And The Seventh Son will be debuting The Outskirts and celebrating that release along with special guests Atlas Bloom, Ashes To Rain, Julian Fulton and others. For show information and other details concerning the purchase of The Outskirts, head over to bobbymahoneymusic.com.
And remember, I’m always interested in your opinion about artists that you would like to read about next. Email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know!