Leroy Justice treads carefully into jam-band territory.

Leroy Justice
Above the Weather
Elm City Music

Leroy Justice treads carefully into jam-band territory, owing to a musicianship and tightness that can turn out 8-minute listening experiences and 34-second guitar solos that are complex and fast-traveling without flying away to Noodleville.

The band self-describes as “guitar-driven,” which is accurate if not too simply put. Collectively, the dual guitars are the “frontman,” with singer Jason Gallagher holding down rhythm while vocally channeling Shannon Hoon. Meanwhile, the revolving tones (delays, country twang, esoteric reverb, jangly Jazzmaster, psychedelic ’70s riffs, crunchy blues) of lead guitarist Justin Mazer (who also plays with MiZ) are controlled and pronounced, leading the rest of the band to pockets and bounties of grooves. “Before I Die” goes from subtle to sprawling, each pick stroke working for position, no laurels to rest on in a song layered with at least 10 (I lost count) different 6-string parts of varying technique.

This is a band on the move, and while the slower ballads build and break out nicely, the players shine during blues rompin’ and longer, instrumental-on-steroid arrangements. Through earbuds, Above the Weather is a collective of heartfelt, seriously rockin’ tunes. The more promising thought, however, is imagining it live, vis-á-vis.

Must-hear tracks: “Watch Him Fall,” “Two Trees”

Intermediate

Beginner

  • Develop a better sense of subdivisions.
  • Understand how to play "over the bar line."
  • Learn to target chord tones in a 12-bar blues.
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Playing in the pocket is the most important thing in music. Just think about how we talk about great music: It's "grooving" or "swinging" or "rocking." Nobody ever says, "I really enjoyed their use of inverted suspended triads," or "their application of large-interval pentatonic sequences was fascinating." So, whether you're playing live or recording, time is everyone's responsibility, and you must develop your ability to play in the pocket.
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