By Martin Halo

When you are in a band, you live for the chance to be heroic in a vacuum of space and time. When the moment presents itself, your bleeding heart is exposed for the taking. The swagger is worn like a badge of honor: They don’t have a jobs -and they are cooler than you because of it. It is the very essence of what inspires kids to be bad asses in the first place, rock n’ roll from the breath of the blues, that’s reckless and free.

But for the under belly, the pressures of stardom cease to stifle the room. These artists want nothing more then to rip a guitar solo in your face and have you swear by Jesus over it. It’s a common scene around the clubs of Asbury Park which is squashed in between affluent Jersey shore suburbs. The broken down, ever progressive, vibrant slum by the ocean has been unemployed since the race riots of 1970 and is certainly cooler than you because of it. It’s the perfect connection for a community of young artists.

For Joe Cirotti, guitarist of the Hackettstown based Only Living Boy, there is nothing he would rather have in life than a room of people rockin’ out to his guitar jams.

Influenced by the mojo worker’s grail, Peter Green, Buddy Guy, Chicago, and Beale, Cirotti rounds out a grit-laden psychedelic rock outfit with Trevor Newcomb and Eric Curley. The trio is set to release their sophomore LP, Hide Nothing, at the Asbury Lanes on June 18.

You won’t hear them while shopping in the GAP or read about them in Rolling Stone, sadly enough, but for those who know, Only Living Boy is a stoner’s unearthed discovery.

Produced by Parlor Mob guitarist Paul Ritchie, Hide Nothing displays a visceral concoction of devil-laden blues, Hendrix howl and Yazoo swagger. “Lonely Puppy Blues” leads the pressing with Cirotti screaming on licks. The evolution of the track, from early demos last summer, is a stiff-lipped rock number that is reckless, sonic and in your face. The Jimi Hendrix influences run deep on the title track, and even more so with “I Hear Music,” which rises the ghosts of the Band of Gypsys’ Fillmore East performances of 1970.

Things take a turn for the rural with “Demon Shuffle Part 1”, as with Cirotti’s vocals hug tight to the riff of his guitar. Straight from the heart of the Yazoo River and dry with acoustic guitar, the cut is the easiest track to digest for blues fans saturated with true grit. Skip James, Pops Staples, and R.L. Burnside are transcended into an age which has far left them behind, before “Bag of Bullets” arrives in the form of a ballad from the spit bucket.

The record caps with “My Heart is Burning,” a Junior Kimbrough hell-raising shuffle.

Blues with your whiskey anyone?

Only Living Boy
“Hide Nothing”
© June 18th, 2011 | Asbury Park