As December (and the year) continues to wind down, Phil’s Picks is far from winding down. There is still much more to share from Phil’s Picks in the final weeks of this year, including today’s year-ender list, that of the year’s top new live CDs. In years past, Phil’s Picks has had an abundance of live material, including live DVDs and BDs, but this year, offerings from that field were far slimmer, likely due to the ongoing pandemic. On the opposite side though, there were plenty of live CDs released this year. Audiences across the spectrum got live material to enjoy this year. The metal masses got new live material from the likes of Destruction, Motorhead, and TesseracT. Jazz fans got new live content from the likes of Doug MacDonald, The Philadelphia Orchestra, and Jazz at Lincoln Center Sextet. Rock audiences got new content from the likes of The Allman Brothers Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Foghat. Even reggae fans got a little something new from a “live” recording from Bob Marley. Simply put, 2021 was still a good year for new live music releases, if only on CD. To that end, Phil’s Picks is offering once again this year, the Top 10 New Live CDs.
As with each and every list presented by Phil’s Picks, the list also features five additional honorable mention titles, bringing the total to 15. Every single act and title listed here is deserving of its own applause, being that enjoyable. There is no bad release. Without any further ado, here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks’ 2021 Top 10 New Live CDs list.
PHIL’S PICKS’ 2021 TOP 10 NEW LIVE RECORDINGS
1. TesseracT – P O R T A L S
2. Lynyrd Skynyrd – Live at Knebworth
3. Harold Mabern – Mabern Plays Coltrane
4. Destruction – Live Attack
5. Motorhead – Louder Than Noise…Live in Berlin
6. The Allman Brothers Band – Down in Texas ‘71
7. Bob Marley – The Capitol Session ‘73
8. The Jazz at Lincoln Center Sextet – The Democracy Suite
9. Doug MacDonald – Live in Hawaii
10. Foghat – 8 Days on the Road
11. Eric Clapton – The Lady in the Balcony
12. The Hawkins – Live in the Woods
13. The Philadelphia Orchestra – Blue Symphony No. 2
14. Harold Land – Westward Bound
15. Enrico Rava – Edizione Speciale
That’s it for this list. Again, there is no bad recording here. Each act and title deserves its own share of praise and applause. With this list done, this year’s music year-ender lists drops now to only three – the year’s top new rock, hard rock/metal, and overall albums. From there, the attention will turn from music to TV and movies. Stay tuned!
This coming October marks an important mark in the history of Bob Marley and the Wailers. Approximately 48 years will have passed this year since the group performed a live, closed-door performance at Capitol Records’ offices following what was a rough tour in support of its then latest album, Catch a Fire. The “concert” in question is a rare recording from the group. It took years of searching and research to even locate the footage, assemble and edit everything. Now this Friday, that painstaking time and effort will come to fruition when Tuff Gong and Mercury Studios (formerly Eagle Rock Entertainment) release the intimate performance. The recording proves an entertaining presentation thanks in part to its featured liner notes. Those liner notes set the stage (so to speak) for the recording and will be discussed shortly. Adding to the recording’s appeal is its production, especially considering the amount of time and work that went into restoring the footage. It will be examined a little later. The set list rounds out the recording’s most important elements and will also be examined later. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the recording. All things considered, they make the recording a presentation that reggae fans and those specifically of Bob Marley and the Wailers will appreciate.
Tuff Gong and Mercury Studios’ forthcoming release of Bob Marley and The Wailers: The Capitol Session ’73 is a presentation that will appeal widely among reggae fans. Its success comes in part through its featured liner notes. The liner notes are so important to the recording’s presentation because they establish the setting and story that led to the one-off performance. The notes come from author John Masouri’s book, Simmer Down: Marley-Tosh-Livingston. The excerpt featured in the recording’s booklet points out that leading up to the rare performance, Marley and company had not had the best experience. Masouri even cites then band member Joe Higgs as saying of the experience, “We weren’t happening, our outfits were inappropriate, and we were rebels.” In other words, the U.S. leg of the band’s “Catch a Fire Tour” (which was what led up to the Capitol Session according to Masouri) was not necessarily a positive experience. Audiences will be just as enthralled as they learn that the band’s connections at Island Records helped to get the band its performance. Perhaps most interesting of all that Masouri points out in the featured excerpt is that the Capitol Session performance was one of the very last times that the majority of The Wailers’ initial lineup performed together. As he states, Bunny Livingston had left the band around the time that the tour’s UK leg launched in April 1973. He later adds that following the Capitol Session performance, the rest of the initial lineup would perform together two more times before many members went their own way. Having this understanding, it makes the performance and recording that much more important of a moment in the history of Bob Marley and The Wailers. Higgs and Tosh each left the band after the band returned to Jamaica following those last two shows together. They would go on to their own successful careers as solo artists. So simply put, the information featured in this recording’s liner notes are just a brief excerpt from Masouri’s book, but they offer so much in the way of establishing the setting. When audiences read those notes first, they will go on to have even more appreciation for the performance.
While the history presented in the recording’s liner notes does a lot to make the recording engaging and entertaining, it is just a portion of what makes the recording successful. The recording’s production makes for its own appeal. Going back to the noted time and effort that went into finding and restoring the recording’s footage, that work paid off. Considering that almost half a century has passed since the footage was initially captured, it looks and sounds quite impressive. The picture and audio are each surprisingly clear. What’s more, the mix effects that are used between the four cameras give the performance a feeling that is just as enjoyable as any much bigger concert. The smooth, gentle transitions from camera to camera do so much to heighten the relaxed sense that the music establishes. Considering that the band was playing this concert in-studio instead of in front of a live audience, it meant extra attention also had to be paid to the recording’s audio mix. The attention paid even to this aspect is impressive, as audiences can hear the subtle echo of the band in the studio, but the echo never once overpowers the music. In fact, it actually adds a subtle positive aesthetic impact to the general effect. It shows along with the video production that the work that went into recording the performance and even restore it paid off in spades. That positive result and the story behind the performance join to make for even more engagement and entertainment. Even with that in mind, there is still one more item to address in examining the recording. That item in question is the recording’s set list.
The set list featured in the band’s Capitol Session performance is interesting because of its clearly directed focus. The 12-song set pulls from the band’s then latest album, Catch a Fire behind which the band was touring, and its follow-up, Burn, both of which were released in 1973. The band had already released four other albums prior to the performance, so to have the focus mainly on those two albums is just very interesting. As a matter of fact, the band pulled over half of Catch a Fire’s nine tracks for the performance, and approximately half of Burnin’. So what audiences get in this set list is a very specific look at the band at that moment in its history. To that end, it is a positive in its own right. So in other words, not only do audiences get an actual history of the band at that point through the recording’s liner notes, but they also receive a musical history so to speak at the same time. Keeping that in mind along with the impressive production values in the recording, the whole leaves The Capitol Session ’73 a presentation that will appeal widely among reggae fans and those specifically of Bob Marley and the Wailers.
Tuff Gong and Mercury Studios’ forthcoming “live” Bob Marley and the Wailers recording, The Capitol Session ’73 is a positive new offering for any reggae fan and fan of Bob Marley and the Wailers. Its success is established early on through the liner notes featured with the recording. The notes, which are in fact an excerpt from a book about Marley and his fellow musicians, do well to establish the history of the moment. Audiences are recommended to read those notes before taking in the concert, as it will serve to increase the appreciation for the performance. The production values presented in the recording add to its appeal. That is because it shows how ell the footage has stood the test of time. What’s more, it shows that the time and effort that went into locating and restoring the footage paid off in its own right. The recording’s set list rounds out the most important of its elements. It is important because it encapsulates the band in a sense. It shows the band at a very particular point in its life through the performances of songs from two specific albums. Each item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of this recording. All things considered, they make the recording a piece that reggae fans and Bob Marley fans alike will appreciate.
Bob Marley and The Wailers: The Capitol Session ’73 is scheduled for release Friday through Tuff Gong and Mercury Studios. More information on The Capitol Sessions ’73 is available along with all of the latest Bob Marley news at:
Mercury Studios (formerly Eagle Rock Entertainment) has partnered with Tuff Gong to resurrect a classic performance by Bob Marley and the Wailers.
The companies are scheduled to release The Capitol Session ’73 Sept. 3 on DVD/CD, CD, 2LP, and digital platforms. Pre-orders are open now.
According to information provided, the performance featured in the forthcoming release was originally captured in October 1973 at Capitol Records by famed producer Denny Cordell. The concert came a decade after the group’s formation, the information states.
The process of locating and restoring the footage for this concert took more than two decades. Archives and storage units the world over were searched for the footage prior to its restoration, showing just how much time and effort was taken to unearth and restore it all.
In anticipation of the concert’s release, Tuff Gong and Mercury Studios have released a trailer of one of the songs performed at the intimate recording. It is streaming here.
More information on The Capitol Sessions ’73 is available along with all of the latest Bob Marley news at:
Eagle Rock Entertainment will pay tribute Friday, to the late, great reggae legend Bob Marley. The tribute will come in the form of the new 3LP live recording Uprising Live. The performance featured in the recording was originally captured at Marley’s June 13, 1980 performance in Dortmund, Germany. The performance was one part of what would go on to become Marley’s final live tour before his untimely passing from cancer in 1981. The show was also part of Germany’s well-known Rockpalast concert series. The 23-song set is a presentation that the most devoted fans of Bob Marley and The Wailers will appreciate. That is due in part to the concert’s set list, which will be examined shortly. While the set list does plenty to appeal to the noted audiences, the recording is not perfect. That it is only available on vinyl detracts somewhat from the appeal. It does not necessarily make the presentation a failure, though. This will be discussed a little later. The recording’s production works with the set list to add to the recording’s appeal, ensuring even more the engagement and entertainment for the noted listeners. When it is considered alongside the set list, the two elements do plenty to make the recording in whole appealing for audiences who are okay with taking in any recording mainly on vinyl.
Eagle Rock Entertainmnt’s forthcoming Bob Marley live recording Uprising Live is a presentation that will appeal to a very targeted group of listeners. It will appeal mainly to audiences who prefer vinyl to other forms of music delivery, and in the same vein, to the most devoted Bob Marley fans. That is proven in part through the recording’s featured set list. Spanning a total of 23 songs, the set list gives listeners a relatively wide swath of Marley’s catalog at that point. It reaches all the way back to his 1973 albums Burnin’ and African Herbsman and all the way up to Uprising, which Marley was supporting on the Uprising Tour. Additionally, Marley’s own then wife (now widow) and her group I Three got some time in the limelight, opening the concert with four consecutive songs. So he made sure that she and her group got their own attention in the process. Given, the overall set list is not necessarily a career-spanning presentation, but it still reaches into a wide range of Marley’s albums, including, but not limited to the likes of Exodus, Natty Dread, and Rastaman Vibration. It would have been easy for Marley and his fellow musicians/performers in The Wailers to focus mainly on Uprising, but they did not go that route. Instead they opted to give audiences something more along with featuring some songs from that record.. To that end, the overall set list gives listeners plenty to appreciate.
While the set list featured in Uprising Live is a positive presentation in itself, it does lead to the recording’s sole negative, its availability. The recording is scheduled for release Friday on 3LP and 3LP Deluxe colored vinyl pressings. There is no CD or digital availability. That potentially limits sales since not everybody out there is a vinyl fan. It means that audiences who want the recording will have to purchase a record player in order to be able to take in the recording. Given, there are audiences who are more devoted to vinyl than other platforms, but there are still people out there who are still more committed to CDs (and even more who are committed to digital). To that end, this limited availability becomes a negative that cannot be ignored. It does not make the recording a failure by any means, but is still problematic in its own right. Moving from there, there is still one more positive to address in the recording. That positive is its recording.
The production of Uprising Live is important to examine because of how far recording technology has come since 1980. Considering this, the production was handled relatively well. There are moments in which the audio is a touch “airy,” but they are rare. For the most part, the instrumentation and vocals were well-balanced throughout the course of the recording. Even the audience noise is audible in its own right. The balance of those audio elements through the production results in a presentation that audiences will enjoy just as much for its sound as for its content. That is even keeping in mind its limited availability. All things considered, the recording proves itself a positive presentation for the most devoted Bob Marley fans.
More information on the recording is available along with all of the latest Bob Marley news at:
Eagle Rock Entertainment has partnered with the Bob Marley Estate to honor the late great musician.
The organizations will release Uprising Live Nov. 13 on separate 3LP and limited edition 3LP Deluxe colored vinyl pressings. Pre-orders are open.
The June 13, 1980 concert featured in the presentation is taken from Marley’s “Uprising Tour.” The tour launched May 30, 1980 in Zurich, Switzerland and ended Sept. 23, 1980 in Pittsburg, PA.
The concert featured in the forthcoming recording was held at the Westfalenhalle arena in Dortmund, Germay. It has become well-known among audiences in part because of the fact that it was broadcast as part of the nation’s Rockpalast concert series. It was also part of what would go on to be Marley’s final tour before his death from cancer at age 36 in 1981.
The performance featured in the forthcoming live recording features songs, such as That’s The Way Jah Planned It,’ ‘Redemption Song,’ and ‘Could You Be Loved.’ The concert’s set list is noted below.
TRACKLISTING Side A 1) Precious World 2) Slave Queen 3) Steppin’ Out Of Babylon 4) That’s The Way Jah Planned It
Side B 1) Marley Chant 2) Natural Mystic 3) Positive Vibration 4) Revolution 5) I Shot The Sheriff
Side C 1) War / No More Trouble 2) Zimbabwe 3) Jamming 4) No Woman, No Cry
Side D 1) Zion Train 2) Exodus 3) Redemption Song 4) Could You Be Loved
Side E 1) Work 2) Natty Dread 3) Is This Love 4) Get Up, Stand Up
Side F 1) Coming In From The Cold 2) Lively Up Yourself
More information on the recording is available along with all of the latest Bob Marley news at:
Courtesy: Aya World Productions/Tuff Gong International
Reggae artist Aaron Nigel Smith will release his first live album next month.
Smith is scheduled to release Live in LA Aug. 15 digitally through Aya World Productions and Bob Marley’s Tuff Gong International. He will be joined by the 25-member 1 World Choruschildren’s choir, which he founded, for the recording.
Smith talked about working with the choir in a recent interview.
“These kiddos really show up in a positive and enthusiastic way,” he said. “Their energy helps to create such a great vibe throughout the concert. It is also meaningful to document a performance where my son plays such a key role. It’s a proud poppa moment for sure.”
A trailer for the forthcoming recording is streaming here.
Along with having founded the 1 World Chorus, Smith is also known for having created the Emmy Award-winning PBS Kids series Between The Lions.
Originally recorded last year during a performance at The Broad Stage in Santa Monica, CA, the recording presents Smith and company performing some of the most well-known songs that Smith has recorded over the course of his 20-year career. Among the most notable of the performances featured in the recording is a solo performance from Smith’s son, Zion Lion.
More information about Aaron Nigel Smith’s forthcoming live recording Live in LA is available along with all of his latest news at:
18th & Addison member Tom Kunzman has partnered with producer and musician Steff Reed to cover Bob Marley’s timeless song ‘Redemption Song.’
The song is streaming now through Spotify and Apple Music. The pair’s take on the song was mixed by Grammy Award-winning engineer Bob Brockman (Fugees, D’Angelo, Dixie Chicks). The arrangement crafted by the dup takes the reggae classic and gives it a distinct new identity with a decidedly pop vibe that is just as catchy as its source material.
Kunzman talked about his friendship with Reed and the motivation for the song in a recent interview.
“I’m a genuine fan of Steff, and I always felt that his live show is very similar to 18th & Addisons,” he said. “We’re both doing our best to bring people together to sing and forget all the division, confusion and frustration outside those four walls for a bit. I love the feeling of unity and togetherness ‘Redemption Song’ offers so naturally. I felt that collaborating with him on this just had to happen.”
Reed expanded on Kunzman’s comments, offering an explanation of how the duo’s take on ‘Redemption Song’ came to be.
“Tom and I met a few years back while we were both on tour,” he said. “We stayed in touch, and organically, a friendship grew. One day Tom sent me a DM on Instagram with an idea to do a cover of Bob Marley’s iconic protest song ‘Redemption Song’ together. I have such admiration for Tom as an artist and musician, and I was excited to collaborate.”
18th & Addison is touring in support of its most recent release, Old Blues / Modern Love on The Reckless Love Tour. The duo, which also features Kait DiBenedetto, will perform Jan. 15 in Los Angeles, CA as part of the tour. The tour’s remaining dates are noted below.
1/15 Los Angeles, CA Harvard & Stone
1/17 Riverside, CA Life Cafe Music Space(new date just added!)
1/18 Denver, CO Bowman’s Vinyl & Lounge(new date just added!)
1/22 Dallas, TX RBC
1/23 Houston, TX Scout Bar
More information on 18th & Addison is available online at:
Independent Latin group Empresarios’ latest full-length studio recording The Vibes is an impressive new release from the Washington, D.C.-based collective. The ten-track, forty-minute musical ride provided by the group is one that will bring together audiences of all tongues. This is despite the fact that of those ten tracks eight feature lyrics presented entirely in Spanish. The musical content of each of those tracks more than makes up for the lack of any English-translation for the songs’ lyrical content, again showing why this album will unite audiences of all tongues. So what of the remaining two songs? The songs, interestingly enough, are included as the album’s final two compositions. Both compositions are full-on instrumental tracks that stand just as well on their own merits as the pieces that precede them. The whole of those songs leads The Vibes to be just as solid of an introduction to Empresarios’ sound for those that are less familiar with the group’s sound as it is a welcome return for those that have followed the group from early on. While the songs that make up the body of The Vibes are in themselves plenty of reason for audiences to pick up this latest release from Empresarios, the sequencing of the songs is just as important to note. From start to finish all ten songs are ordered in such fashion as to keep the album’s energy flowing just enough to never lose listeners. The end result of that attention to detail in the album’s sequencing and to the songs themselves is an album that is one of the best of this year’s New World music offerings.
Empresarios’ new album, its third full-length studio offering, is one of the best of this year’s new World Music offerings. It is a ten-track, forty-minute collection of songs that is certain to bring together audiences of all tongues. This is even without English translations for any of the songs included in the album that feature any lyrical content. The songs in question are so powerful in regards to their musical content that said musical content alone will have listeners on their feet, moving in time to those songs. The album’s opener ‘No Vamos A Parar’ is just one example of the group’s ability to bring audiences together. The song’s very title, which roughly translated into English means “We Are Not Going To Stop”, is hint at that. The group’s “Tropicaliente” is clear as day here with its mix of Latin and Afro-Cuban musical influences. The light, playful sound of the horns that opens the song sets a wonderful tone for the song. The equally light guitar line and hip-hop beats couple with the group’s rapping to make this song one that in full honesty doesn’t necessarily need lyrical translation in order to be enjoyed. Sure, it would be nice to have. But just considering the positive *ahem* vibe of the song’s musical content and from the very delivery of the song’s lyrical content, it is clear that this is a song that will in fact make listeners not want to end. It is just one example of how the album’s main body of songs makes this record just as enjoyable for those that speak Spanish as for those that don’t. The instantly club ready ‘A Fuego Lento,’ which translates roughly to ‘slow fire’ or ‘slow burn’ is an interesting piece because of the contrast of that title to the song’s overall content. The song does start somewhat slow and reserved. However, that reserved sound only lasts a matter of seconds before the song really kicks into gear and gets listeners moving again with that mix of different Latin sounds. ‘Salsoul,’ is one more example of the ability of Empresarios to reach audiences of all tongues. This song is yet another club-ready composition that is sure to get listeners on the dance floor. The band even goes so far as to encourage listeners to dance along with the band in the song’s lyrical side. And dance they will, too in hearing the song’s infectious grooves. It shows once more just why The Vibes is such a surprisingly impressive record regardless of listeners’ native language. That is not to discount any of the album’s other full lyrical/musical compositions. Each one of those songs not directly noted adds its own enjoyment to the whole of The Vibes to make its main body of songs plenty of proof as to why it is such a surprisingly enjoyable album. They are not the only reason that listeners will enjoy The Vibes. the album’s finale pairing of songs–‘Rootsy jam’ and ‘Alegria’–are just as important to the album’s enjoyment as each of the eight songs that come before them.
‘No Vamos A Parar,’ ‘A Fuego Lento’ and ‘Salsoul’ are each important in their own right to the enjoyment of Empresarios’ new album. Together with the other five tracks that make up the main body of The Vibes, all eight songs that make up the central body of The Vibes show clearly why audiences don’t have to speak Spanish (or even Portugese) to appreciate and enjoy this record. While they are collectively a hugely important part of the record’s success, they are not all that makes this record so enjoyable. The album’s final pairing of songs–‘Rootsy Jam’ and ‘Alegria’–which are both fully instrumental add even more enjoyment to the album. ‘Rootsy Jam’ boasts an infectious reggae vibe that will instantly conjure thoughts of Bob Marley and The Whalers. ‘Alegria’ on the other hand is somewhat more complex. It opens with a sound that seems to throw back to the days of disco with its mix of keyboards and beats. As the song progresses, horns and bongos join in for a distinctly Latin feel that carries listeners through to the end of the nearly four-minute song. Both songs stand out distinctly from one another. But each is still just as likely to have listeners on their feet, smiles on their faces as the sweat builds. That ability to keep listeners locked in and moving speaks volumes about these two songs. Both songs, set alongside the album’s other eight songs result in a record that lack of translations aside is still a record that audiences of every language will enjoy thanks to musical content that they will want to play all night long again and again.
The songs that make up the body of The Vibes collectively give listeners plenty of reason to check out this latest offering from Empresarios. While the songs are in themselves vastly important to the whole of the album, the album’s sequencing is just as important as the songs themselves. People in general tend to take sequencing for granted. But the reality is that the order of an album’s songs plays just as important of a role in the album’s success or failure as the songs themselves. In the case of this album its sequencing is just as much of a success as its songs. The sequencing of the songs maintains just the right amount of energy from one song to another to keep listeners completely engaged. In keeping listeners engaged, said audiences will agree that The Vibes will leave any listener feeling their own positive vibes. The Vibes is available now online and in stores. It can be ordered direct via Empresarios’ official bandcamp website at https://empresariosmusic.bandcamp.com/releases.
Empresarios’ latest LP The Vibes is an album that is certain to leave listeners with their own positive vibes thanks to the positive vibes that it exudes over the course of its ten tracks and forty minutes. Those good vibrations (bad pun fully intended) are generated through music that will keep listeners moving and smiling from the album’s outset to its end and their smart sequencing. By the end of the album’s closer, listeners feeling those positive vibes will agree that The Vibes is one of the best of this year’s new World Music offerings. It is available in stores and online now. More information on this and Empresarios’ previous pair of recordings is available online now along with the group’s latest news at:
Independent reggae act Dubbest will release its latest full-length studio effort Light Flashes early next month. The album, the band’s third full-length effort, will be released independently by the Boston-based band. Being that most audiences have likely never heard of Dubbest, its latest record proves to be a good introduction to its sound. This is especially the case for those that are fans of reggae. The band has already premiered the album’s lead single ‘Spend The Day’ as well as a video to go along with the song. That song in itself is a good introduction to the band for those that might not be so familiar with Dubbest and an equally welcome return for the band’s long-time fans. The laid-back grooves of ‘Cross Pollination’ and its intriguing metaphorical writing make it yet another interesting example of what makes Light Flashes a worthwhile listen for any reggae fan. While it is one more good example of what Dubbest has to offer fans both on its new record and in general, it is not the last example. The band also includes no fewer than two instrumental numbers on its new album as part of its whole. The best of those two instrumentals comes late in the album in the form of the song ‘Escape Route.’ The very title conjures thoughts of a beach on a late spring day, the sun shining and palm trees swaying gently in the breeze. It is a great image that will put any listener at ease and in turn yet another example of what makes Light Flashes worth at least one listen. It isn’t the last example of what makes it worth the listen, either. Each of the album’s twelve tracks has its own merits. All twelve tracks noted, Light Flashes shows to be more than just a bright, shining light in the world of reggae and of independent music. That being said, it is safe to say that Light Flashes is one of this year’s best new independent albums.
Dubbest’s new album Light Flashes is one of this year’s best new independent albums. The record boasts twelve tracks that reggae purists everywhere will enjoy. That is because it is a sound that continues to clearly maintain Dubbest’s identity apart from the likes of Sublime, 311, and other pseudo-reggae acts. The album’s lead single ‘Spend The Day’ is a clear example of what makes this record stand out from those of Dubbest’s counterparts. The song doesn’t try to be the poppy sort of song that those from Dubbest’s counterparts have churned out over the years. It is reggae, plain and simple. Guitarists Andrew MacKenzie and Corey Mahoney’s gentle strains harken directly back to the days of Bob Marley and The Whalers while drummer Kyle Hancock’s backbeat serves as a solid foundation for the whole thing. Front man Ryan Thaxter’s own vocal delivery style is just as worth noting here. His delivery is just as soft and gentle as that of his band mates on their respective instruments. This even includes bassist Sean Craffey. Looking at the song’s lyrical content, it plays its own role in the song’s enjoyment, too. Thaxter sings in this song, “Feeling the love like never before/Been waiting for a long time and I cannot endure it/I’m sick of the rain/Let it shine like before/I’ve never been sure before/But I’ve never been so sure/Baby come relieve me/I wanna see you today/Maybe come for the evening and tomorrow we can spend the day.” Simply put, Thaxter is singing from the standpoint of a man that wants to be with his woman. Even more interesting is that even though a man is singing the song, there is no indication of gender in this song. So it could just as easily be sung from a woman’s vantage point, too. That makes the song even more enjoyable. Set against the song’s laid back musical side, it generates a positive vibe that those overly sappy, saccharine pre-produced pop songs about love could never even begin to create. Because of this it makes ‘Spend The Day’ a wonderful first effort from Dubbest on its new album and an equally welcome introduction to the band for any fan that might be unfamiliar with its body of work. Audiences can check out ‘Spend The Day” online now for themselves right at its Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/dubbestmusic.
‘Spend The day’ is a good way for Dubbest to introduce itself to its newer fans and to re-introduce itself to its long-time fans. That is thanks in large part to a solid mix of musical and lyrical content. While it does show itself to be a great starting point for the band on this record, it’s just one example of why any reggae fan should hear this record at least once. The equally laid back yet perhaps somewhat suggestive ‘Cross Pollination’ is another good example of what Dubbest has to offer audiences on its new album. The same things that applies to the musical side of ‘Spend The Day’ apply just as much in the case of this piece. That should just go without saying. Of course, there is the addition of what sounds like an old school B-3 Hammond organ added in to this song’s musical backing. It plays more of a supporting role than starring in this song for lack of better wording. Even in a supporting role, it adds so much with its sound. There’ something special about the vibrato of sorts that comes from such a classic organ. It’s something that can’t be fully put into words. It is something that really can only be appreciated in hearing it. It just gives a certain positive vibe that will put a smile on listeners’ faces just as much as the rest of the song’s musical elements. Moving to the song’s lyrical content, Thaxter uses the concept of cross polination of flowers via a bee to discuss a pretty obvious topic. The swagger in those lyrics coupled with that of the music makes ‘Cross Pollination’ yet another solid radio-ready song from Light Flashes.
‘Spend The Day’ and ‘Cross Pollination’ are both good examples of what makes Light Flashes a worthwhile listen for any purist reggae fan. They are just a couple examples of what makes Light Flashes a bright spot in the realm of indie albums and that of reggae in whole. While both songs are equally important additions to Light Flashes the album also boasts no fewer than two full-on instrumental tracks. The latter of the two, ‘Escape Route,’ is the best of the pair. The music crafted by the band in this song instantly conjures thoughts of a tropical beach. It conjures thoughts of the sun’s rays bathing the said beach in their warmth while a breeze blows through palm trees. The gentle, laid back vibe of the whole song makes it such a joy within itself. It may only be an instrumental. But it proves that an instrumental can be just as enjoyable as any song highlited more by lyrical content than that highlighted by the music alone. It proves in the end to be one more clear example of what makes Light Flashes such a surprisingly interesting listen both within the world of indie releases and that of reggae acts. Together with the likes of ‘Spend the Day’ and ‘Cross Pollination’ it makes all the clearer why any purist reggae fan should hear this album at least once. It also proves once more why Light Flashes is a bright flash of a record among this year’s crop of indie records and reggae records.
Light Flashes is one of the best new independent releases of 2015. The third full-length release from Dubbest it is a welcome return for the band’s long-time fans and an equally welcome first-time introduction for those that might not be so famliar with the Boston-based band. It will be released July 7th. More information on Light Flashes is available online now along with the latest news from Dubbest at:
(Hed) p.e. has spent the majority of its life flying just under the mainstream radar. From changes in the band’s lineup to changes in record labels and more, the band—Jahred Gomes (vocals), Mark Young (bass), Jackson Benge (guitar), and Jeremiah Stratton (drums)—has stuck to its guns so to speak and managed to remain a favorite among its fans while still pulling in new fans along the way. Now with its latest album, titled Evolution, due out later this month, it looks to gain even more fans. That is thanks to the album boasting a solid mix of infectious grooves and thought provoking lyrics from start to finish. One example of how that mix of music and lyrics will catch listeners’ ears is the album’s second track, ‘Lost in Babylon.’ This song comes across as a social statement of sorts about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. ‘No Tomorrow’ has its own interest, too. And for all of the high intensity that permeates most of this album, the members of (Hed) p.e. do show a softer side in the album’s closing numbers without losing any of their social consciousness. Case in point the album’s penultimate piece ‘Let It Burn.’ This one harkens back to reggae great Bob Marley. It is one more of so many pieces throughout Evolution that will have listeners agreeing that this album is some of the band’s best work to date.
The songs written for Evolution collectively make this album some of the band’s best work to date. That’s because of the mix of infectious grooves and thought provoking lyrics. The topics covered in this album vary in subject matter. One of the hardest hitting of those subjects comes in the album’s second track, ‘Lost in Babylon.’ This is just this critic’s own interpretation of the song. But it comes across lyrically as tackling the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. Front man Jahred Gomes sings of a person whose life was rough to begin with but was only made worse with the introduction of drugs and alcohol. He notes in the song’s opening verse, “It’s just another day/Gotta wake up to the pain/Those demons inside/They wanna come outside and play/Those demons I hide inside/I gotta make ‘em go away/Tonight/We raise hell/We take everything in sight.” He goes on from here to sing about the consequences of covering those demons with various drugs and alcohol. Specifically, he says, “I can’t feel my face/I’m so wasted/I wanna die/I’m young/Just having fun/So why/Not/Drink and drive/You dead/From all that whiskey/And all the vodka/drinking cocaine/And sniffing marijuana.” Yes, that’s right. The whole intention of that line being written in such fashion is to illustrate just how powerful and dangerous abusing drugs and alcohol can be. It shows that it can screw up a person so badly that said person wouldn’t even know what he or she is doing. Something as minor as this, examined on a larger scale, makes for quite the powerful statement. And the manic energy exuded by the band illustrates that message even more. Gomes goes even deeper as the song progresses. And audiences in hearing the song’s depth will agree that such musical and lyrical depth makes this one of the album’s most important and best songs, too.
Another of the album’s standout moments comes only a few songs after ‘Lost in Babylon.’ The song in question is the radio ready ‘No Tomorrow.’ Right from the song’s start, audiences will note a stark difference in the overall style of the song in comparison to ‘Lost in Babylon.’ It’s more of a straight forward hard rock song. That difference in sound makes it far more apt to be one of the album’s singles than say ‘Lost in Babylon.’ The defiant lyrics and the heavy, thundering guitar line here will work just as well in a live setting as on the radio. The song’s chorus, in which is written, “When it all goes down/You know I wanna be right there/Yeah, when the walls come down/You know I wanna be right there/On the frontline/Fightin’ on the right side/Holdin’ up the frontline/Like there’s no tomorrow.” The band adds in the song’s second verse what comes across as an indictment of the powers that be. Gomes sings in that verse, “Renegade/Can’t be f&*^!^% around with my life/I’m gonna break you/Show you how real rebels we ride/Take a big hit/Open your eyes and realize/It’s not the destination/It’s about the journey we ride/Can’t stop you from turning water into wine/Like the system/Poisoning the masses from the inside out/But change is coming that you heard about/The revolution’s on the way/Go BOOM BOOM!” There is a certain social consciousness about this song, nothing the revolution coming. It would seem that the noted revolution would be in regards to those working inside the system that is poisoning the masses. If that is the intended reference, then it makes the song all the harder hitting and worth the listen. In the bigger picture, it is yet another piece of Evolution’s whole that makes this album worth the listen.
Evolution boasts more than its share of high intensity songs throughout the course of its twelve tracks. For all of the powerhouse riffs and equally deep lyrics, the members of (Hed) p.e. show that they can also craft songs that are just as powerful without the heavier riffs and pounding drums and bass line. A prime example of that ability lies in the album’s penultimate track ‘Let it Burn.’ This piece harkens back to reggae legend Bob Marley both stylistically and lyrically. Gomes sings in this song, “show me a miracle/Show me some love today/A little bit of love go a long way/Just a little bit of love go a long way.” It’s one of those pieces that exemplifies the themes of togetherness and joy in life common in works from Marley and even his song Ziggy. And after all of the fiery energy presented by the album’s previous songs, it shows that a song can still be heavy without being musically heavy. It’s one more example of what makes Evolution worth the listen and potentially one of the year’s best independent releases.