Dallas-based rock band Jonathan Tyler & The Northern Lights (JTNL) released their first major label album, Pardon Me, way back on April 27, 2010. Although relatively obscure a year ago, a tireless touring schedule (including spots at ACL and Bonnaroo, as well as opening for acts like AC/DC, the Black Crowes, and Deep Purple), blistering live performances, and several TV features have launched this band onto the Rock and Roll map. If you haven’t heard of them yet, it’s about time you start taking notice.
Pardon Me, released by F-Stop/Atlantic Records, was recorded live in Nashville with producer Jay Joyce (Patty Griffin, Cage the Elephant). JTNL features a lineup that includes lead singer/guitarist Jonathan Tyler, guitarist Brandon Pinckard, drummer Jordan Cain, bassist Nick Jay, and singer Mo Brown. Pardon Me is an almost nostalgic rock and roll vehicle that oozes with southern blues and soul.
The album might conjure recollections of the Black Crowes from 20 years ago, but this band has a musical identity all its own. With the title track “Pardon Me” they make sure you know what they’re here for: “Hey! Can you hear me? / Can you feel me, coming through your stereo?” … “Maybe it’s been too long since rock ’n’ roll turned you on / So pardon me, just let it set you free.” This gritty rock and roll attitude, combined with some blues-heavy guitar riffs, make for several singles that should be on your iPod.
“Pardon Me” and “Young & Free” start the album off with some vigor, but it wasn’t until “Gypsy Woman” came on that I seriously starting paying attention. “Gypsy Woman” is a driving blues-rock single with a throwback southern sound that just makes you want to move. The album even has a few hidden gems, including the more introspective “Young Love,” the surprisingly catchy “Bright Energy,” and the almost Darkness-esque (in a very good way) “Hot Sake.” The album as a whole plays like a live concert that just happened to be recorded.
Check out the video for “Gypsy Woman” here:
Jonathan Tyler and The Northern Lights still have a lot of room to grow, but Pardon Me is surprisingly polished for a debut album. The years of constant touring with this material prior to entering the recording studio allowed the album to be recorded live, and the energy of the live performance really shines through. The album fades a little at the back end, but not as much as you might think for a band that first started playing together in 2007. However, as a whole, the album lacks the real depth and continuity to be considered a great “album.” There are some great singles that riled me up, but I found myself skipping through songs to find a good “single,” instead of following the sound and emotion of the album as a whole. There are several lulls throughout the album where I simply stopped paying attention to the music. That said, as choppy as the album might be, the singles alone make it an album worth having.
As JTNL continues to gain more national attention, they are beginning to expand their touring schedule outside of Oklahoma and Texas. Keep an eye out for their follow-up album, as well as tour dates in your area (LA, I’m talking to you).
Tracks you should listen to: “Pardon Me,” “Young & Free,” “Gypsy Woman,” and “Bright Energy.”
~Loaded with some fantastic, gritty blues-rock singles that deserve your attention, Pardon Me is an impressive debut album for the Dallas-based rockers Jonathan Tyler and The Northern Lights. The album has a rhythm that begs to be performed for a live audience, and should keep your toes tappin’ for a while.