Highly Recommended Album: IN THE KEY OF WTF! (Journos)

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by Tony Frankel on February 1, 2023



I put this on for a spin, and wasn’t just immediately hooked, I’m on my third listen in a row. Bursting with originality and old-fashioned, hard-driving songs of activism and pure joy — and I can understand every lyric. Award-winning journalist and lyricist Bryan Russo teamed up with workhorse punk-rocker Ryan Abbott to produce a terrific collection of deep-thinking hard-drinking songs — and some awesome folk Americana. A scathing editorial, Journos’s debut full-length album In the Key of WTF is a sonic statement that neither buries the lead nor misses the point. Russo’s lyrics recall the snark of Elvis Costello and dry humor of Randy Newman, while Abbott’s hooks relentlessly propel this hard-driving quintessential record. You may hear a hint of Springsteen and Dylan in there, too. GET IT, GET IT, GET IT.In the Key of WTF is a palate cleanser for an audience saturated with the static of televised news commentary, but it also does the trick turned up with your car windows down on a hot August night. According to the band, “The ruling class is a balloon, glutted with hubris instead of air, waiting to be popped by the needle of acerbic wit and old fashioned, sleeves-rolled-up journalism.”

New on the album, the Bonus Track “Mr. Tindley, a song that honors the legacy of one of the founding fathers of Gospel music somewhere between where he was born in 1851 as a freeborn son of a slave on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and the city of “Brotherly Love”  (Philadelphia) where he became one of the nation’s most revered preachers and hymn writers in the early part of the 20th Century. The song was recorded on March 14th 2020 (the day before the world went on lockdown due to Coronavirus) and will be part of a new short film of the same name that hopes to solidify Tindley’s place in the history books alongside other prominent African American figures who grew up on the Eastern Shore of Maryland like Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass.

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