P.J. O’Connell – Join the Crowd

January 01, 1970





You can probably count on one paw the rock sidemen who’ve
also mounted credible careers as frontmen, but in the case of Pat (P.J.)
O’Connell, the gifted guitarist was serving up potent pop nuggets long before
he found himself recording and touring with NRBQ and the Incredible Casuals. Prior
to relocating from NC to Massachusetts his band the Flying Pigs was a mainstay
of the Triangle rock scene, and over the past couple of decades he’s released
two Pigs albums and three under his own name. Join The Crowd is the followup to 2006’s Careful, and ‘Q watchers will be chuffed to hear that pianist Terry
Adams and drummer Tom Ardolino are core players here, along with the likes of
Mike Gent (The Figgs), Joey Interlande, Marc Hickox, Ducky Carlisle (who
co-produces) and Chandler Travis.


Methinks he shouldn’t take so long between albums, because JTQ is stuffed to the gills with twangy
tuneage and jangly pop – the kind you just don’t find too often anymore in this
world of overprocessed beats, GarageBand sterility and Auto-Tuned pitchiness.


It kicks off with the raucous “Blindsided,” a caustic ditty
powered by slashing guitar chords and Adams’
pounding keys. Soon enough we’re knee-deep in the powerpop raveup of “Byrds”
and the harmony-strewn, Paul Westerberg-like (check O’Connell’s passionate
vocal rasp) “Join The Crowd,” and if one is inclined towards trainspotting one
can also detect the stray Rolling Stones influence (chunky riffer “Mesmerize”),
a touch of classic John Hiatt (“Birthday”) and definitely NRBQ (“World Of
Love”). In short, O’Connell’s musical touchstones are prominent, but never
dominant; his instinctive grasp of how to weave a lifetime’s worth of influences
into a brace of compelling, memorable original material is profound. Factor in
a warm analog vibe within which his regular-guy vocals swim invitingly, and Join The Crowd just may turn out to be
the feel-good hit of the summer.


DOWNLOAD: “Byrds,” “Birthday,” “World of Love” FRED MILLS

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