Based out of Canton/Detroit and surrounding areas, Second Hand Mojo are group made up of Marq Andrew Speck (Keyboard), James Hampton (Bass) Scott Brokaw (Drums), Vern Springer (Guitar) and Chuck Riepenhoff (Vocals). Founding members Brokaw and Springer meticulously put the band together piece by piece over time, and finalized its current line-up in 2019. What they do, and how they do it can be fully witnessed on their latest 6 song project, “After Midnight”.
Kicking things off with the fast-paced rocker “Call Me”, the band sound like they could fit in anywhere from now back to the L.A. Strip in the late 80’s. This is a band making a statement, they’re here to make rock music, it’s unapologetic and it’s great.
Then suddenly their Midwest rock meets southern fried groove sets in on the funky title track “After Midnight”. They’re all over the place with chunky guitar strums, sprawling organ keys, and soaring bourbon stained vocals. Both the music and vocal arrangements are dynamic, layered, and even complex in places.
This is clearly a band comfortable with what they’re doing. “All About You” is a powerful ballad that serves as an ode to love lost. It’s the type of song that takes you to those quiet, solitary moments, when you realize just how special someone was in your life.
Filled with regrets and nostalgia, the piano and guitar drive this track along beautifully, alongside the emotional vocals. The way this album rolls between tempos, timbres and tones seamlessly, shows that Second Hand Mojo are not a band to be put in anyone’s one-genre box.
“Hold on” delivers a mid-tempo uplifting vibe with gritty guitars, fiery solos, and plenty of lush harmonies. The drums push this along nicely with some tasteful patterns and plenty of energy. “One Last Song” is another introspective slow burner, with clean guitars, warm keys, melancholic strings and whispery mellifluous vocals meant to captivate.
It’s all so tangible that you can feel that bit of heartbreak seep right into your soul. Just in case we’ve got too emotional from listening the previous song, Second Hand Mojo pick up the pace with album closer “Saturday Night”.
Second Hand Mojo ply on the pressure in this final track with extended instrumentals and exhilarating start-stop tempos filling the template. The deeper you dig into this album, the better it gets. It’s one of those records you can’t help listening to all the way through, something that many aspire to, but fail to deliver.
The camaraderie and absence of ego in this band is marked by the way the members execute their parts in each song. This process is so successful for them in part because of the chemistry and consistency they have assembled playing together. The synergy comes through in the music.
Great songwriting and superb musicianship form the backbone of a record that shows just what Second Hand Mojo can do. From hard driving rock n’ roll that gets your heart beating and your pulse pounding, to a more heartfelt laid-back balladry, Second Hand Mojo has given us a superior album with “After Midnight”.