Reggae outfit The Green released its latest full-length studio recording last week. The Hawaiian-sextet’s new 15-song, hour-long record Black & White is one of the most welcome surprises from the reggae realm so far this year. According to the band’s own members – Caleb Keolanui (vocals), Ikaika Antone (keyboards, lead vocals), JP Kennedy (guitar, lead vocals), Zion Thompson (guitar, lead vocals), Brad “BW” Watanabe (bass, vocals) and Jordan Espinoza (drums) – the album’s title is a reflection of the band’s minimalist approach to the record. That simplistic approach to the album’s musical content is just one of the album’s most important elements. Its lyrical themes couple with its musical content to add even more interest to its whole. Together, they do plenty to make the album appealing from start to finish. That is evidenced early on in the form of ‘Good Vibrations.’ It will be discussed shortly. ‘Wake Up,’ which comes later in the album’s run, is another way in which the album proves itself a surprisingly enjoyable offering from The Green. It will be addressed a little later. ‘Chocolate & Roses,’ which comes just past the album’s halfway mark, is yet another example of what makes Black & White stand out in this year’s reggae realm. It will also be addressed a little later on. When it is considered along with the two other songs noted here and the album’s remaining dozen songs, the whole of the record becomes a piece that is one of this year’s top new reggae records.
The Green’s new full-length studio recording Black & White is a strong new effort from the Hawaiian reggae band that will appeal to fans of performers, such as Jack Johnson, Jason Mraz and Gabby Pahinui. That is evidenced through the minimalist approach taken by the band to the album both musically and lyrically. One of the songs that serves to support that statement comes early on in the album’s run in the form of ‘Good Vibration.’ ‘Good Vibration’ opens with the band’s members singing a capella before bringing in a steady mid-tempo guitar riff that couples with a steady beat on the timbales from Espinoza. As the song progresses, the rest of the band joins in, creating a three-part harmony that creates a positive, easy-going vibe that translates quite well to listeners. That simple musical approach makes the song’s equally uplifting lyrical content to make the song in whole one of the record’s strongest additions.
Keolanui sings in the song’s lead verse, “I’ve been traveling for so long now, you know/Around these islands/Just to show/With a good meditation/Can cause a good vibration/Turn a bad situation/Into a fine afternoon.” He goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, “So listen up, listen up/’Cause we’re gonna fill your cup/’Cause we like/The joy that it brings us/And yes, we take it everywhere that we go/To people we’ll throw/These big love grenades/And we’re on target almost every time…no we don’t care about things that bring us down/And we gotta let you know/That I’ve got that good vibration.” Keloanui continues in the song’s final verse just as positive, stating he just wants positivity for others, encouraging support for others. There really is no grey area here. It is all…well…black and white. The message is one of optimism and hope, and it is delivered with total clarity. That positive message, coupled with the song’s equally uplifting musical arrangement, is certain to achieve its goal of empowering listeners and lifting them up. That clear, simple message and equally simple, accessible musical arrangement makes the song in whole a clear example of what makes Black & White a strong new entry in this year’s reggae field. It is just one of the album’s standout entries. ‘Wake Up,’ which comes later in the album’s run, is another positive addition to the album.
‘Wake Up’ stands out because its arrangement is another surprisingly enjoyable non-traditional reggae work. The arrangement opens with an easygoing bluesy guitar riff that couples with Watanabe’s bass to form a solid foundation for the song. Once Keolanui and the rest of the band joins in, the arrangement develops a slightly more traditional reggae sound that still is balanced well with that early bluesy sound. The two sounds together create a unique sound that stands solidly on its own merits. The positive vibes that the arrangement establishes in listeners’ minds is made even more encouraging by the song’s uplifting lyrical theme. It is a theme that even the most devout Christians will appreciate.
Keolanui sings in the song’s lead verse, “As your times start to get rough/And you fear you’re losing love/It’s ‘cause you never took the time to trouble/The one and only man above/My friend, God.” From there, he and his band mates sing in the song’s chorus, “You gotta wake up, brother/Open your eyes/You gotta wake up/It’s time you realize.” The second verse continues in similar fashion, with Keolanui singing about a person spending so much time drinking and smoking, doing negative things, yet wondering why things are going badly. He reminds people about having faith in God to make things better. Again, the message is clear, even if some of the lyrics are not so clear without a lyrics sheet. The message is clear enough that it is obvious what is being discussed in this case. Keeping that in mind along with the subtleties of the song’s arrangement, the whole becomes a song that will appeal even to people who might not necessarily be the most devoted reggae fans. When it is considered along with ‘Good Vibration,’ the optimism of both songs shows even more clearly just how much Black & White has to offer listeners. It is still not the last of the album’s most notable entries. ‘Chocolate & Roses,’ which comes just past the album’s midway point, is one more example of the album’s strength.
‘Chocolate & Roses’ stands out musically from its counterparts already discussed here as they do from each other and the rest of the album’s works in terms of its musical arrangement. This song’s arrangement presents some of the strongest comparisons to Jack Johnson and Jason Mraz that the album exhibits. It is a simple, laid back work that utilizes Keolanui’s vocals, Espinoza’s work on the bongos, Watanabe’s bass work and a steady, easygoing, tropical guitar riff to create a whole that is one of the album’s most memorable arrangements. With summer only around the corner, one could imagine this playing during a couple’s romantic getaway at the beach. Of course, as with the other songs noted here – and the rest of the album’s songs – that impressive musical arrangement is just one part of what makes the song work. Its lyrical content is just as notable as its musical arrangement.
Keolanui sings in the song’s lead verse, “Fireworks going off on a new year’s day/Like a dozen roses on the fourteenth of February, yeah/Like a beautiful day in the start of spring/Like an April fool I watch the smile it brings/I’m all you need girl/I’m all you need/Like chocolate and roses…are all you need.” He continues in the song’s second verse, “Like a cloudy day in May/I’ll be there/Like the sun, it shines on a summer day/Like a chocolate pie on the fourth of July/Like a cool breeze on an August night/I’m all you need.” The similes don’t end here, with more refrains of the chorus and even more in the song’s third verse that are just as simplistic. That simplistic approach to the song’s message once again leave no doubt about what’s being said. This is a love song, and one that with the right support, could be the love song of this summer. It, along with the other two songs noted here – and the rest of the album’s works – could be one of the year’s biggest surprises from the reggae realm with that same support.
The Green’s new full-length studio recording Black & White is a work that is worth the green paid for the album. Yes, that awful pun was intended. Reggae fans and the band’s most devoted audiences alike will agree with that statement. That is made evident through all three songs discussed here, as well as the rest of the album’s works. From start to end, the album stands out as one of the year’s most surprisingly unique reggae offerings to date, and one of the year’s best in the genre. More information on Black & White is available online now along with all of The Green’s latest news and more at:
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