If you haven’t heard of this burgeoning Saskatoon-born, Seattle-bred bluesman, here’s your chance to catch up on his well-earned hype. Jordan Cook, aka Reignwolf, specializes in high-octane blues rock, often starting his set alone with a guitar and kick-drum. Then he gets behind a full kit, playing guitar and drums at the same time. No loop pedals, all live. He’s been touring open-mic nights for years, supposedly starting guitar at age five. After catching fire in Seattle – thanks in part to local station KEXP – he’s made a second home. Rumor has it he’s even doing an EP with Soundgarden/Pearl Jam legends Matt Cameron and Ben Shepard.
Contemporary chart-topping ‘blues’ rockers beloved by young, white audiences – say, The Black Keys or Jack White, to whom Reignwolf is often compared – generally water down both message and riff, until what’s left is really pop-rock with a blues scale. Both the Keys and White still up radio-rock’s game, but they’d probably agree: repeating “Your Touch” 12 times, or singing about schoolyard friendships hardly counts as authentic blues, a genre entirely based around Faustian deals with the devil.
When the day turns to night, Lord
And there’s tears in your eyes, yeah
Momma I gave you my soul
I can’t give you anything more, nah
While the 29-year-old’s been tossed backhanded compliments like “pentatonic-based cock-rock with a smoke machine,” his stage presence is undeniable. Plus, all blues is pentatonic. His performance is as masculine as you’d expect from X-Men’s Wolverine after a Jimi Hendrix closet-raid, but “cock-rock” inaccurately implies he’s sacrificed musicianship for showmanship. Even if he is a “self-indulgent cock-rocker who thinks he’s playing the O2 arena,” he’s the best self-indulgent cock-rocker around right now. And you should always play like you’re at the O2 Arena, dipshit.
Drawing you in with his multitasking shtick, you’ll stay for his Hendrix-style guitar-manhandling and legit, raspy vocals. He even peppers in some down-tuned metal, but not Ferret Music pseudo-southern chugging or anything “-core.” Think BB King Raging Against The Black Zeppelin – riff-based and classic, with traditional kerosene-bathed satanic references and love’s violent consequence abound. This influence is best shown in his heaviest track, “Dead of Night,” warning, “who said Lucifer/was gonna be nice?” [LISTEN]
In the dead of the night (I’ll take control of you)
In your headlights (And run over you)
And you know that you’d be wise (Not to call me, child)
In the dead of the night
While bloggers obnoxiously focus on his on-stage sexuality and guitar/drum gimmick, one still nailed it: “Nobody doesn’t like Reignwolf.” Hopefully this universal appeal doesn’t burn his career at both ends. But in case it does – do yourself a favor and check him out now.