Adrenaline and rock n’ roll grit are the name of the game in the new single “Dirty Sweet” from Ten Ton Mojo, but I would hesitate to call this the kind of meathead rock a lot of their retro contemporaries have been pumping out lately. TTM approach the concept of big grooves and enormous riffing with a lot more attitude than they do a desire to fill in a specific framework, which alone gives their music more of an authenticity than it has to have in the first place. I’ve been frustrated by a lot of rock output recently, but this is quite honestly what I’ve been hoping to hear more out of the underground as 2023 has pressed on.
The guitar doesn’t have to receive a boost from a synthetic component in this mix, and I would even go so far as to say that it’s aided by the cleanliness of the presentation here. TTM appears to have a real respect for simplicity that I don’t see or hear enough of in hard rock these days, and although it negates some of the indulgences a lot of their contemporaries use to create a narrative in this kind of music, it doesn’t impede their ability to use their sonic depth – as well as tell us a story. Both of those elements are key to making any kind of real legacy in this genre, and if you look back at the biggest rockers ever, history reflects as much.
The blues are fundamental to the rhythm of this track, and yet there isn’t any swing in the beat. This is because of the metallic weight of the guitar parts, which prevents the drums from really getting away from the melodic threshold the same way they would in a looser arrangement. There was time and energy put into the smaller components of this track that some would have just as easily overlooked in chasing something streamlined, and it’s for this reason that I think Ten Ton Mojo is going to do quite well with critics who have been desperate for an act that doesn’t live within the shadows of intellectualism all year long. These guys embrace the smart side, which is what rock truly needs more than ever right now.
The grit of the riffing here is one thing, but if you’re in the mood for rock that has more bite than bark, this could be the band that has been evading you in 2023. “Dirty Sweet” has a venomous front end that has made me all the more excited about what TTM has got in store for their fans in the future and being that the buzz they’ve got in the underground is as strong as it has been coming into this new spring season, I would have to assume we’re going to be seeing and hearing a lot more of their brand on the mainstream end of the business before we have the chance to catch up with any similar acts coming out of their scene this year.