Jr. Thomas & The Volcanos album Beware is the most exciting debut release I have heard since The Green and The Expanders self-titled albums in 2010 and 2011 respectively. I have been gushing over the recording all week and could think of no better praise than by sharing the letter I sent Jr. Thomas a few days ago. Keep reading below for more of the story on the recording, the band, and an inside deconstruction of “The Master” from Chiquis Lozoya of The Expanders.
Part 1: Rarely does something this good come into my life so unexpectedly
I was floored by your album, Beware. Last night I planted a tree and two bushes in the backyard while listening to the album three times. Later I cooked my wife homemade pasta sauce from the garden and played Beware at least another four times, capping it off with our first fire in the fireplace as the music warmed our ears.
The last debut that received so much back to back play at my house was The Expanders first album.
I can’t thank you enough for reaching out and sharing your songs. The recording and mix are perfect; rarely does something this good come into my life so unexpectedly.
Part 2: The Story
“I wanted to make a record that was honest and true to the golden era of Jamaican music” says Jr. Thomas. With Thomas and Brian Dixon as the brainchildren and nucleus of the project, some of LA’s finest purveyors in the golden era of roots were assembled to become The Volcanos and together they recorded Beware.
I reached out to my friend Chiquis Lozoya of The Expanders with questions about the recording and asked if he could tell us something about “The Master.” Here is what he had to say:
I’ve always felt that reggae is all about the details and nuances. “The Master” is definitely a good example. If you take a good listen to all that’s actually happening in the tune you’ll find it quite intricate. The organ bubble is steady but stretches out in just the right spots. The guitar lines are catchy and specifically placed. The rhythm guitar isn’t just playing your average skank and it’s also got a nice bit of overdrive on it. Drum and bass play steady through the tune to help the details stand out. It’s all in the details! Los Angeles breeds a rare kind of reggae musician and BEWARE is definitely a testament to that. – Chiquis Lozoya, The Expanders
Part 3: Album Credits
Jr. Thomas: vocals/guitar/songwriter
Raynier Jacildo: piano/back up vocals (JD McPherson)
Scott Abels: drums (Jimmy Cliff Rebirth and Sacred Fire, Hepcat, The Aggrolites)
Brian Dixon: guitar/engineer (The Aggrolites, Western Standard Time)
Chiquis Lozoya: bass/back up vocals (The Expanders/Hepcat)
John Butcher: back up vocals (The Expanders)
Dan Boer: organ/piano (Jimmy Cliff Rebirth and Sacred Fire)
Zac Pike: lead guitar (Sand Dollar Sound)
Producer: Brian Dixon
Recorded: Volcano Lounge (Los Angeles, CA)
Release Date: September 18, 2015
Label: Truth & Soul Records
Part 4: Connect
* “The Master” is an exclusive Rootfire World Premiere.