Johnny Conqueroo gets ‘Washed Up’ on new album


Johnny Conqueroo celebrate the release of their album “Washed Up” at The Burl on Friday.

After a two-year hiatus, local youthful rockers Johnny Conqueroo are back at it again with their first full-length record “Washed Up”, the group’s first new music since 2015’s self-titled record.

The record jumps around in terms of genre, featuring songs with surfer rock, psychedelic, desert rock, blues rock and grunge vibes, all while maintaining a central theme and sticking to the band’s signature sound.

“The album is where we are after two years of exploration and playing live,” drummer Wils Quinn said. “If someone just listened to the EP and then this new record after, it’d seem like a pretty big jump stylistically.”

The record begins with the title track “Washed Up,” which features a 1960s surfer rock-infused guitar riff from guitarist Grant Curless, who’s also featured on the record playing organ and lap steel among other instruments.

“Washed Up” transitions into “High Tiding,” another track with a heavy dose of guitar magic from Curless, albeit with a more blues and desert rock tone. “Whippets,” a grungy tune with a loud, lo-fi vibe in all aspects, featuring Quinn banging away on drums paired with Shawn Reynolds holding down the low end on bass and Curless singing, or rather screaming, at a fever pitch.

Perhaps the record’s most distinctive songs are the two packed tightly in the center – “Dancin’ With You” and “The Key.” “Dancin’ With You” features heavy psychedelic instrumentals paired with Reynolds and Quinn on backup vocals. 

“The Key” is another song with psychedelic vibes, but with a twist. Aside from shredding on the guitar, Curless also is tracked on the song playing organ, illustrating his musical diversity. The song has a one of a kind sound reminiscent of classic rock band The Doors and the late George Harrison. According to Quinn, the band also noticed the comparisons to The Doors, giving the tune a special name prior to settling on the title of the album.

“We thought ‘The Key’ sounded so much like a song by The Doors that for the longest time the working title was ‘The Doors Song’ up until we made an album title for it,” Quinn said.

Following “The Key” is “Downtown Boy,” another cut off the album with heavy psychedelic vibes. “Washed Up”’s second to last track, “Grinding on Sand,” has strong desert rock vibes, with a simple yet intricate guitar riff from Curless during the song’s verses before transforming into a work of art during the chorus, equipped with Curless’ elegant whistling that gives the vision of standing in the middle of nowhere, hearing your own thoughts echo.

Three of the records’ four closing tracks, “Who Do You Trust,” “Palendrome” and “Take 5” feature a grungy sound similar to “Whippets,” perhaps the most appealing of sounds to Johnny Conqueroo’s fan base, whom get crazier the louder the band gets in a live setting. 

“Washed Up” was recorded in the group’s home studio, which also serves as their practice space beginning this past spring. According to Quinn, recording in their practice space made sense because it allowed them to record whenever they had the time, whereas at other studios they’d have to rent out specific dates to record, which can also get expensive.

“We’re all in this little room together, and it feels like we’re performing live,” Quinn said. “We’re all getting the vibes off each other, jumping around, then when we get a good track with a lot of energy we begin building off that. You’re never going to get that full, raw live energy, but that’s about as close as we can get.”

With Quinn and Reynolds graduating from high school next spring and Curless already graduated, the band already has their sights set on the future. Curless recently purchased a short bus that the band plans on renovating into a tour bus so they can get out on the road to reach new fans and music hotbeds around the country. According to Travis Young, banjo player for the Blind Corn Liquor Pickers and talent booker for The Moonshiner’s Ball, Johnny Conqueroo has the talent to carry them wherever they’d like to go.

“I’ve been involved in the Lexington music scene since the early 90s, when we would jump the back patio fence at The Wrocklage to see [Quinn’s dad’s band] 10 Foot Pole or Catawampus, and I’ve never seen a band this young come up this fast,” Young said. “And they’re growing and morphing right in front of our eyes.”

Johnny Conqueroo will celebrate the release of “Washed Up” at The Burl on Friday, Dec. 2 with support from local artist Daisy Helmuth, daughter of SLO-FI’s Otto Helmuth, and Nashville’s Chrome Pony, whom Johnny Conqueroo first became acquainted with when the two performed at Moontower Music Festival this past August. Doors open at 8 p.m. and tickets are $8-10.


What: Johnny Conqueroo, Chrome Pony, and Daisy Helmuth

When: Friday, Dec. 2 at 8 p.m.

Where: The Burl – 375 Thompson Rd.

Tickets: $8-10