Reggae, Pop Fans Will Find Artikal Sound System’s New LP Is Worth Hearing At Least Once

Courtesy: Controlled Substance Sound Labs

Reggae act Artikal Sound System released its new album, Welcome to Florida early this month through the independent record label, Controlled Substance Sound Labs.  The 12-song record is a presentation that many reggae fans will find interesting.  That is due in large part to its featured musical arrangements, which will be discussed shortly.  While the record’s musical content will engage and entertain audiences, the record is not without at least one fault.  That fault is the lack of any parental advisory for the extent of foul language and at least one song that focuses lyrically on getting high.  While not enough to doom the record, it is disappointing that this aspect of the record has to be noted.  It will be discussed a little later.  Moving back to the positives, the record’s lyrical content works with its musical counterpart (even despite a certain amount of foul language and at least one drug reference) to make the record increasingly appealing for the group’s targeted audience.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of Welcome to Florida.  All things considered, they make the album a work that will appeal to a targeted audience base.

Welcome to Florida, the new album from reggae act Artikal Sound System, is a presentation that the group’s established audiences and pop music audiences alike will find mostly appealing.  That is due largely to the record’s featured musical arrangements.  The record’s musical arrangements are important to note because while they are reggae-centered, they are not the typical style works that audiences think of when they think of reggae.  Case in point is the arrangement featured in ‘Cops and Robbers.’  Coming just past the album’s midpoint, the song presents more a ska-style composition than pure reggae.  Of course, ska is an offshoot of sorts from reggae, so the connection is still there.  The interesting thing here is that even with the ska leaning, the song only uses that as a foundation.  For the most part, the arrangement still boasts a certain pop sensibility.  That is especially evidenced through the work of vocalist Logan Rex.  Her delivery style alongside the instrumentation gives the arrangement that touch that really makes the whole stand out as anything but generic reggae.

‘Happy,’ the album’s penultimate entry, is another example of how Artikal Sound System avoids the mantle of a generic reggae act.  The immediate thought that comes to mind in listening to this song’s arrangement is that its guitar line, its semi-hip-hop style beat, its keyboard and vocals make it similar to works from Sugar Ray.  The overall musical presentation is so infectious.  It would make for a solid fit in any Top 40 pop radio programmer’s play list if only for that reason.  Its companion lyrical content adds even more to that appeal and will be examined later.

‘Stayed,’ which opens the 36-minute record, is yet another example of how Artikal Sound System avoids the tag of being just another reggae act.  As is the case with ‘Happy,’ this song boasts more of a pop leaning than reggae.  What’s more, it avoids the Sugar Ray comparison in said song.  Rather in the case of this arrangement, the comparison is more to the likes of Nelly Furtado.  More specifically, it is easily likened to Furtado’s hit single, ‘I’m Like A Bird.’  The two songs are not identical works, but the similarities are unquestionable.  That is because of the subtle, reserved approach taken to the verses and the more open choruses.  Looking at this song and the others examined here and the rest of the album’s works, the whole makes the mix of mainstream pop, reggae, and ska reason enough for audiences to give Welcome to Florida a chance.

While the musical content featured in Welcome to Florida makes it worth hearing at least once, the record is not perfect.  Over the course of its nearly 40-minute presentation, the record’s lyrical content incorporates a certain amount of foul language, and even one song that is a straight up promotion of smoking marijuana.  There is another that is in fact titled ‘You’re An A******’ in which Rex sings that line time and again in the chorus.  She also sings about wanting to tell apparently a former romantic interest that she wants to say to that person, “F*** you.”  Now for all of the musical content featured in this record that can reach audiences of all ages, the lack of a parental advisory about the oftentimes questionable lyrical content is disappointing.  It makes the presentation somewhat deceiving, and that could leave some listeners with something of a bad taste in their mouths.  Again, that is because the songs’ musical arrangements are so accessible for audiences of all ages.  That is not to say that all of the record’s lyrical content is negative.  Quite the opposite, and it will be discussed shortly.  Getting back on the topic, the lack of a parental content advisory in this content, all things considered is disappointing.  It is not enough to doom the album, but certainly bears mentioning in the record’s bigger picture.

Getting back to the subject of the album’s lyrical content, not all of the content is negative.  Case in point is the lyrical theme of unity presented in ‘One With You (ft. Dubbest).  The song follows the familiar theme of peace and unity that is so common with so many reggae songs, and there is nothing wrong with that, either.   Now getting to the noted late entry, ‘You’re An A******,’ the song is of note because it takes a road far less traveled in the realm of songs centered on broken relationships.  The controlled anger is something rarely experienced in such songs.  It is straight forward and is certain to connect with so many listeners for that reason.  ‘Happy,’ is another notable song to discuss in examining the song’s lyrics.  This song delivers an uplifting message about appreciating life instead of letting those negative forces out there bring one down.  The positive energy in the song’s musical arrangement helps translate that message even more.  Considering that and the rest of the album’s lyrical content, there is some negative content, as has been noted.  There is also far more widely accessible content.  Keeping that in mind, the lyrical content overall proves just as important to the overall presentation of Welcome to Florida as the album’s musical content.  When that content is coupled, it makes the album overall worth hearing at least once.

Artikal Sound System’s new album, Welcome to Florida, is a presentation that will appeal to a wide range of pop and reggae fans.  That is proven in part through the record’s featured musical arrangements.  The arrangements blur the lines of pop and reggae, in turn helping the group avoid the designation of being just another reggae act.  While the record’s musical content does much to help the record’s presentation, its lack of parental advisory about the content, of which quite a bit is questionable, hurts that presentation.  That is because the record’s musical arrangement is so accessible to audiences of many ages.  There is enough “adult content” in this record that said lack of advisory will leave many listeners being left with a feeling of being deceived.  While there is a considerable amount of “adult content” in terms of foul language and drug references throughout the album, not all of the content is negative.  There is some family friendly lyrical content at points.  Each item examined here is important to the album’s presentation.  All things considered, they make the album overall worth hearing at least once.

Welcome to Florida is available now.  More information on the album is available along with all of Artikal Sound System’s latest news at:



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Caro Emerald In Concert Could Break Singer Out In America

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision/BBC/Grand mono

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision/BBC/Grand mono

The name Caro Emerald is one that is not largely familiar in the mainstream music world right now.  This is the case despite the Dutch singer having already released two full length studio albums since 2010.  But with the release of her new live DVD and Blu-ray, Caro Emerald in Concert, the young singer’s name may start to spread like wildfire.  That’s because the new live release from Eagle Rock Entertainment presents the best of those two albums in one complete concert.  It’s an excellent introduction to the talents of the young artist and her band mates.  The very first thing that audiences will notice in listening to the band music crafted by Emerald and her band mates is the band’s “jazz-hop” style.  For those that might be scratching their heads, it’s a mix of old school swing jazz mixed with the occasional modern hip-hop vibe.  Still confused?  Imagine mixing Adele, Amy Winehouse, Nelly Furtado, and the Squirrel Nut Zippers.  That is the interesting hybrid sound crafted by Emerald and her band mates.   Ironically enough, Emerald notes in the concert’s bonus interview that Amy Winehouse was indeed one of her influences.  That is something that will be discussed later.  Getting back to the music in this concert,  there is not one bad moment in the entire performance.  Every song in this concert has its own flare that is sure to have anyone dancing along in their own living rooms and bedrooms.  From the up-tempo opener, ‘Just One Dance’ to ‘Paris’ to the show’s closer, ‘Stuck’, Ms. Emerald and company prove over and over again why it won’t be long before they break out in the United States.

The songs included in the band’s new live recording show just why American audiences should expect to hear more from the unit provided program directors give the band the support that it deserves.  On a deeper level, the songs become even more interesting after listening to Caro discuss her musical upbringing in the recording’s bonus interview.  She explains in the interview that it was classical music, not pop music, on which she was raised as a child.  She laughs as she admits that she was hardly a fan of classical music.  This is interesting to note because of her vocal range.  She has such control over her voice from one song to another.  Whether in the performance’s softer moments or those that are more upbeat, she does such a wonderful job accenting the song’s energy level with her vocal control.  And as noted already, she adds during her interview that the late Amy Winehouse was one of her influences.  That is also evident in her singing.  There is a certain almost cabaret style vibe about some of her songs.  While not as gritty as Winehouse’s vocals, she still has such power in said songs.  It’s something that audiences can only appreciate when they check out this recording for themselves.

The set list and the performance presented in Caro Emerald in Concert both play important roles in the enjoyment of this recording’s overall presentation.  No examination of a live concert would be complete though, without an examination of the recording’s audio and video.  And this critic is pleased to say that those charged with managing the show’s audio and video mix did an excellent job.  Director Helen Scott got the best out of her camera crew, catching some amazing shots.  Those with HDTVs will love the wide shots of the BBC Radio Theatre.  They show just how “intimate” the setting was for the recording as was noted on the back of the disc’s case.  Just as interesting were the close-up shots captured by the videographer manning the stage.  Emerald comes right up to him more than once and looks right into the camera as she sings.  Again, having an HDTV, the quality of the footage is crystal clear.  Viewers can see every single detail of her face as she sings into the camera.  The audio mix is just as impressive.  Every part of the recording is balanced all the way down.  None of the performers overpower the other at any one point throughout the show.  Together with the expertly shot and edited video, the performance of the band and the show’s set list, it all combines to make Caro Emerald in Concert one more reason that Eagle Rock Entertainment continues to be a leader if not the leader in live recordings.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on this and other live releases from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at and  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news go online to and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at