Jeremy Porter And The Tucos: Candy Coated Cannonball

Reviewed by Harry Kaplan

Most people, when they think of a state that produces a lot of popular musicians, would mention states like New York or California. It’s time to rethink that. I am going to throw Michigan in the mix. Let’s not forget, Motown was started in Detroit and most of the early stars were from Michigan. Motown aside, the musical influencers from Michigan are all over the place. Of course there are The Stooges and the MC5, but let’s not forget one of the greatest guitar players of all time, Bill Kirchen. And, Bill went to the same high school as Iggy Pop (James Osterberg) and Bob Seger. So Michigan is pretty dense with game changing bands and musicians. It just so happens that Jeremy Porter And The Tucos are from none other than Detroit, Michigan. And they definitely learned a lot from those that came before them. Once in a while, you can hear a Stooges riff or a little bit of Iggy styling, and I love that. There are enough differences in the music that the similarities stand out more.

Jeremy Porter And The Tucos definitely use noise and distortion at times, but they can also turn out a beautiful pop song with gorgeous vocals and backing harmonies. In fact, they do an amazing job of mixing a heaping helping of influences and genres in their own music. And they do it flawlessly, with no need for safety nets. They aren’t bound by any labels or parameters when it comes to the music. Not only do you have the standard electric guitars and bass, but this album has B3, trumpet, flugelhorn, and farfisa.

So who are Jeremy Porter And The Tucos? Let’s find out. Of course, on lead guitar and vocals, you got Jeremy Porter. If you think that’s all Jeremy plays, think again. Jeremy also plays organ, synth, piano, mando, and baritone guitar. And that’s just on this album. On drums, percussion, vocals, and guitar, you have Gabriel Doman. The final leg of this power trio is Bob Moulton on bass, vocals, baritone guitar, and hand claps. It’s not easy to get a good hand clap recorded.

So, onto the music… I have given it one listen already and my early favorite out of the gate is Zipper Merge. I have such a soft spot for this type of smart, well crafted, pop music. The harmonies and hooks are so infectious, you may need a booster shot. It’s a really nice song about driving home to see the one you love. The vocals are great and the instruments perfectly compliment the entire ensemble. If you listen closely, you can hear those stunning Hammond B3 organ fills. Total ear candy.

Jeremy and the rest of the musicians can also shred it up, when necessary. Just take a listen to the opening track, Put You On Hold, The opening guitar riffs will definitely take you back to the early 70s when The Stooges and MC5 where the bullies on the block. This song has some heavy guitar and drums, but the heaviness is tempered a bit by the farfisa played by Even Mercer. A perfect example of power chord driven rock and roll with a twist. Jeremy and the boys put their own signature on this hard rockin’ ditty.

Another really nice song that is a perfect example of power pop executed perfectly is Girls Named Erica, I have a hunch that this song is not about all girls named Erica. No, I have a hunch that song is about a very specific girl named Erica. They seem to be making a connection that one “Erica” speaks for the entire “Erica named” population. Whether this is true, I have no idea. But, it makes for a really beautiful rock and roll song played the way it should be, with real instruments and limited knob twisting.

I have been hearing a lot that rock and roll is dead. Candy Coated Cannonball completely disproves that theory. This is almost a perfect rock and roll record. My hope is that this fine LP will influence other musicians and bands to make their own rock records and start a real comeback. Rock and Roll is still alive, but a little more of it wouldn’t be a bad thing. Jeremy Porter And The Tucos can make it happen.

Listen and buy Candy Coated Cannonball here.

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