Wojo Heads For the "Borderlands"

Local fivesome Wojo returns this week with its first album since 2003's How To Try Without Succeeding. The band's new Borderlands gets its official release this Sunday at legendary downtown bar, Arn

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Local fivesome Wojo returns this week with its first album since 2003's How To Try Without Succeeding. The band's new Borderlands gets its official release this Sunday at legendary downtown bar, Arnold's. The 8 p.m. show is free; a copy of the new CD will set you back $10. Louisville's John Whitaker opens.

The band's 1999 debut, Exist On Cool, showed potential, while How To Try showed a more mature and fully realized songwriting vision from singer/songwriter Justin Lynch and the crew. Wojo has gradually added members (this album is their first with keyboardist Luke Alquizola, a great addition to the band) and grown artistically with each passing year. Borderlands is the pinnacle, unquestionably their finest work yet and worthy of attention outside of their local fan base. The international Americana/AltCountry/Roots press should eat this shit up, and with good reason. Borderlands is soulful, poetic Roots Rock that is carefully, masterfully crafted and performed.

The album begins with the gauzy, hypnotic sway of "You'll Feel Better Soon," which, like the beautiful title track, is painted with somber sunset pedal-steel swells and driven by Lynch's heartrending lyrics and unassuming yet expressive croon.

It sounds a bit like Paul Westerberg in "Here Comes a Regular" mode or that other band beginning with a "W," before Wilco began turning their songs inside out. The band will also appeal to fans of Louris/Olson-era Jayhawks, circa Tomorrow the Green Grass, as songs like "Waiting For Purcell," "Wrap You Up" and "Ten Tons Wise" are steeped in a timeless Folk Rock tradition (and feature impeccable harmonies) but still manage to sound fresh and wholeheartedly addicting in their melodic magnetism.

But that's just part of Wojo's arsenal on Borderlands, an album that is terrifically dynamic yet never distractingly schizophrenic. Whether going full-on Country twang ("Salt of the Earth [Salt of the Sea]," the Johnny Cash-like "Have You Seen One"), whipping out some jaunty, head-bopping Pop ("Long Month of Sundays") or adding a robust horn section for the old Soul/R&B sound of "I Know What You Need" (a reworking of an old song by local group Filthy McNasty), Wojo has reached the point where, despite dips into other genre soups, they still end up tasting like Wojo. And, after years of stirring in ingredients to get that taste just right, Borderlands is one of the more scrumptious albums from a local band you'll hear all year. (worldwidewojo.com)

More Local Notes
· It's been a rough few weeks for the Bengals, but local turntablist crew The Animal Crackers (who recently represented for the U.S. at the DMC DJ championships in London) are hoping "Who Dey" fever isn't just a fair-weather affliction. The group and their label, Manimal Records, are putting out a CD of Bengals-related songs, skits and cheers, and they're looking to the local music scene for contributions. Artists interested in being a part of the "ultimate tailgating CD" can submit material up until Oct. 31 (they hope to have the disc ready for the Nov. 12 game against the San Diego Chargers). The organizers are looking for covers or originals — basically anything in a recorded format — and it is open to all genres of music (how about a Gospel version of "Welcome to the Jungle"? Anyone?). For submission directives, go to whodeytracks.com.

· This Thursday at the Northside Tavern, Jeremy Foltz of the great local Indie Pop band The Paper Airplane is presenting a benefit show in honor of his friend and co-worker Michael Duke, the co-founder of the PACE High School (a charter school for students who have dropped out of public schools) who died in a Sept. 22 car accident. The event features The Paper Airplane as well as The Dandybeards, Buckra and The Layers. There is no cover charge but donations will be collected to help set up a college scholarship in Duke's name. (myspace.com/therealpaperairplane)

· The University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music is bringing in Latin Jazz legend Arturo Sandoval for the seventh annual "In a Whirl of Jazz" concert this Sunday at 5 p.m. at CCM's Corbett Auditorium. Sandoval will be joined by CCM's Faculty Jazz Artists and Student Jazz Ensemble, led by accomplished local saxophonist Rick VanMatre. Proceeds from the event go to supporting Jazz scholarships and programs at CCM. For ticket reservations, call 513-556-2100. (ccm.uc.edu)

CONTACT MIKE BREEN: mbreen(at)citybeat.com

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