Tag Archives: Reggae

Soja Release Live Video Of Latest Single, I Believe

DC-natives Soja premiered the live performance video of their single I Believe featuring Michael Franti and Nahko live from Red Rocks on Conan O’Brien’s Team Coco recently. The track is off the band’s new album Amid The Noise And Haste which was released on August 12 2014 via ATO Records.

The new album debuted at Number 20 on Billboard’s Top 20 Charts, Number Three on iTunes Top Albums Chart, Number One album on iTunes Reggae Charts and had four songs in the Top 10 iTunes Reggae Charts including the Number One spot. You can order Amid The Noise And Haste now via the band’s website as well as iTunes.

“It’s incredible to put everything you got into an album and have fans respond the way they are,” says lead singer/songwriter/guitarist Jacob Hemphill. “The point of the album is reconnecting people to the power inside themselves, getting them to fall back in love with life again. Look around, take a deep breath. All the answers are there.”

Amid The Noise And Haste was produced by multiple Grammy award winning Jamaican producer Supa Dups (Bruno Mars, Eminem, Rihanna, John Legend). It is the follow up to critically acclaimed Strength To Survive which debuted in the Billboard Top 40. Amid The Noise And Haste features special guests including Michael Franti, Damian Marley and Collie Buddz.

Soja originally formed by a group of friends while still in middle school and has built a massive, dedicated fan base around the world since. In the years following, Soja has sold more than 250,000 albums, headlined shows in over 20 countries around the world, generated over 3.5 million Facebook fans and 200+ million YouTube views. The band has toured with Dave Matthews Band, Incubus, 311 and appeared at major festivals including Bonnaroo where they attract an almost Grateful Dead-like international fan base along the way with caravans of diehards following them from city to city.

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Random Order – Black Lipstick Kiss Album Review

Taking cues from Twin Peaks, James Bond and Quentin Tarantino films, Toronto based collective Random Order’s spine tingling swamp rock reggae attracts a diverse cultural audience. Their newest offering, Black Lipstick Kiss, which was released 29 July, injects their signature subversive rock into the sexy soundscapes of dangerous spy movies.

Since their inception in 1995, Random Order have consistently released great material, toured Canada, the East Coast and Japan, played Festivals, charted on Canadian Top 30 and opened for artists as diverse as Joan Osborne and Salt-n-Pepa.

Black Lipstick Kiss starts with The Morning After Kill which showcases Random Order’s strange combination of reggae, soul and rock with influences from Imelda May and Diana Ross being heard in the vocals. It’s a punchy yet seductive song which makes it an instantly great opening track.

The title track, Black Lipstick Kiss, appears next on the record. Black Lipstick Kiss is a soulful song where the seductive guitar riff and jazz drum beat compliment those sexy and gorgeous vocals.

The next track, Do It Quattro, is a great jam track where the vocals are suspended entirely; this track is solely about Random Order’s rock/reggae style – it’s totally all about the music. Do It Quattro has a distinct live sound – it’s raw giving it that automatic enthusiasm.

Spoiled is a silky track; the guitar is summery and soft while the vocals are airy and bright sounding. If you’ve ever seen Ten Things I Hate About You then Spoiled has a similar sound to the band, Save Ferris, who perform I Know at the school ball. Spoiled is reminiscent of No Doubt with its swing and reggae influences. It’s a brilliant upbeat song to get you moving.

Trans Mission on the other hand lends itself to sound a little bit like Patti Smith especially on the vocals. The track is much darker than those heard previously on Black Lipstick Kiss. The notes held resemble Patti’s deeper vocals and there’s also a bit of spoken word with that angst and punk attitude that Patti has.

Pink Cloud closes the record on an upbeat, pop and totally absorbed reggae beat. This song will instantly lift your mood despite the lyrics, “I want to ride on your pink cloud/Even though I know it’s going nowhere/And I know it’s going to break…” Pink Cloud sings about being totally in love with someone or something and not caring about the consequences or worrying that the cloud could fall apart, “I know I’m going to be the one to fall…You don’t even know you gave up the fight to trust/In anyone a long time ago”. It’s about the danger and the passion behind our human reactions.

Random Order’s Black Lipstick Kiss is a brilliant reggae/rock/ska album that will make you fall in love with this band’s sound.

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Introducing…Little Brother Eli

Little Brother Eli is the musical lovechild of Alex Grew and Joshua Rigal. Over the last eight months they have been writing and recording music which has culminated in this exciting project. Their influences have derived from blues artists as well as old school hip hop but the main focus for them is writing and producing great songs.

When performing live Little Brother Eli are accompanied by their band consisting of Benji Page, Adam Stowe and Linus Taylor. Allowing their songs to take on a totally new light, the duo describe this as a very exciting experience.

After their recent performance at iconic Jazz venue Ronnie Scotts in Soho, it’s no surprise that Little Brother Eli have gained a lot of fans in the lead up to the release of their forthcoming debut EP.

Their debut EP is out for digital release and has been described as “The Real Deal when it comes to blues and soul music” by The Flux. Alex and Josh have extracted the rich melodies of blues and combined them with the excitement of old school hip hop and an injection of good old rock ‘n’ roll. Creating a sound that is not only relevant to this generation but is musically intriguing to all.

Track one on the EP is Animal Fair – an incredibly bluesy, punchy song full of great guitar riffs and spine tingling vocals. The vocals seep passion. It’s unbelievably hard to sing the blues and come across as feeling it but Little Brother Eli totally and completely manage this. Animal Fair has slightly ridiculous lyrics but it works – it’s metaphorical. There’s enough control in the vocals on this song to keep it structured but there’s also that really important rawness which is what makes blues music such an emotional rollercoaster.

Awkward Positions is about exactly what you expect it to be about just from its title, “She likes the/Lights on/So that she can start to hypnotise you/It’s all that she thinks about…I heard she’s good on her knees…”. It’s a more solemn blues track with, once again, wonderful vocals that will make your jaw fall open. This time though the vocals are angry. If you think The Black Keys meets The Script – that is what the vocals are like. There’s the blues style from The Black Keys but also that slight Irish twinge heard in Danny O’Donoghue’s voice giving the vocals quite a unique sound.

When She Sings is the final track on Little Brother Eli’s EP. It has a swaying blues rhythm and is a full bodied track with explosive guitar riffs and soulful vocals. There are reggae influences around half way through the song which gives it that summery sound. This is the sort of song that would sound amazing blasting from huge speakers in the garden on a summer evening. There is a do-wop style to it with strong 1950s rock ‘n’ roll influences. They’ve saved the best to last with When She Sings.

Little Brother Eli’s EP is out now.

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The Plum Magnetic – Terra Animata Album Review

The Plum Magnetic is an eclectic world/fusion/rock quartet. Drawing comparisons to groups ranging from Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, The Grateful Dead, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Talking Heads and Umphrey’s McGee, The Plum Magnetic is one of the most diverse and original up and coming groups in the New Orleans scene and beyond.

The Plum Magnetic is Trent Ciolino (electric six-string banjo,vocals), Andrew McLean (guitars, tabla), Jon Solomon (bass) and Oliver Burke (drums).

The Plum Magnetic album

The Plum Magnetic Terra Animata artwork

The aim of The Plum Magnetic is to blend elements of music from all over the world into a synergistic whole and through this genre-melding approach to both represent and promote a harmonious unity-through-diversity. The depth of emotion, melody and structure of Indian Classical music; the ecstatic pulse and rich, repetitious, patterns of Africa; the manifold great American forms including Jazz, Blues, Rock, Folk/Bluegrass, Fusion and beyond; all of these are deftly interwoven to produce a sound that is broad in scope, rich with intent and full of surprises.

The Plum Magnetic was formed in late 2011 out of relationships built over years of involvement in the New Orleans music scene. Trent (banjo/vocals) and Oliver (drums) met while playing in super eclectic local group Eve’s Lucky Planet and, after years of extended jams based in African, Reggae and Afro-Cuban styles, developed a unique musical bond which serves as the backbone of The Plum Magnetic’s developing sound. In considering personnel to expand the project’s line-up, Andrew McLean (guitar) was the obvious first choice. Trent and Andrew met through a shared love of Indian Classical Music; Andrew (having studied raga and tala for over a decade at the esteemed Ali Akbar Khan College of Music) as teacher and Trent as a beginner sitar student. Last but not least, the group needed a bassist and after experimenting with a few different players, Jon Solomon (founding member of Gravity A and bass player about town) was a natural fit. With his great feel and sensitivity he rounds out the sound allowing the group to present music that, though at times exceedingly complex, is always firmly rooted in the groove.

Terra Animata is a marvellous album full of a bit of everything. It’s an album that introduces the world’s sounds to you with each song initiating you with a certain country or lifestyle.

First track Spring is a track that focuses solely on the vocals with Trent singing, “Everything/Moves into spring” a few times before this song melts into the next one, Trece Leches.

Trece Leches is a relaxing, psychedelic number introducing The Plum Magnetics diversity. This is a track that showcases jazz and blues influences among its psychedelic 60s rock feel. The song is absent of vocals which allows you to become fully immersed in the music – you can hear every note, every twinge of the guitar string being plucked and the sound of fingers sliding up and down the frets. This song hints towards Andrew and Trent’s Indian Classical Music training in the way that the banjo is played – almost as if it’s a sitar.

Sweet Confusion introduces a much heavier sound to The Plum Magnetic although still remaining calming. It starts as if it will be a rock track before it settles to become a reggae number. Sweet Confusion highlights The Plum Magnetic’s startling ability to pull many different genres together into one song – each influence just seems to compliment and then melt into another. This is one of the only tracks on the record which is accompanied by vocals.

The Plum Magnetic Trent Ciolino

Trent Ciolino playing his electric six-string banjo

The Electric Jungle is a favourite on Terra Animata as it blends the psychedelic 60s sound with folk and some Indian Classical Music influences which can be heard in the tabla which features on this song. The guitar picking and strings at the start of the track carry the folk influences while the tabla introduces the Indian tinge with the drum beat, bass line and slightly sporadic melody allowing this song to capture the essence of psychedelic rock. The Electric Jungle is so captivating – it will leave you in awe of this band. It’s simply outstanding.

Sheshbesh once again focuses heavily on blues and psychedelic rock while all still managing to sound completely different from any of the previous tracks. The bass line is placed in the forefront in this track alongside the soloing guitar allowing this track to sound much more jazz and blues inspired compared to other songs on Terra Animata. The drums really highlight the jazz influences Sheshbesh while the soloing guitar carries the blues throughout.

Parallax is a blues rock number which sounds like something from the late 60s or early 70s. It has sporadic rhythms which only add to its atmosphere and depth. Once again the bass line is paramount in this track, it’s not pushed aside by the soloing guitar but perfectly complimented by it and the drums.

The Delicious is soulful, relaxing and very much a psychedelic influenced track leading to a psychedelic experience when listened to. This song will place you in a trance with its guitar riffs, dominant bass line and rhythmic yet calming drums. The other instruments featured on The Delicious such as the flute re-introduce the Indian theme. It’s these sounds that give this song its meditative effect as well as the swooping synthesised sounds towards the end of the ten minute jam.

Title track Terra Animata appears as the last song on the record. It’s an uplifting number with a much more jazz/rock feel. Trent’s vocals make another appearance on this song. It’s a brilliant song to end this superb album on – it’s full of life, melody and sing-a-long lyrics that mirror those heard in the introductory track, Spring, “Everything/Everything/Everything/Everything/Who Lives/Who Dies/There’s time to think twice/But still in the end/It comes down/To the dice…Everything/Moves into spring”.

The Plum Magnetic Andrew McLean

Andrew McLean playing guitar

Terra Animata is a fantastic album which could easily be placed into one of the most original and inspiring albums Rocking Republic has had the pleasure to hear. It sounds vintage – every song sounds like it could have been released in the 60s alongside artists like The Beatles, The Doors or Pink Floyd. If you heard these tracks on the radio, you could easily mistake them for having been released in the 60s, not today. Each song is like a jam session with incredibly passionate and enthused musicians with a thirst to create something breath-taking.

The Plum Magnetic and their album, Terra Animata, are outstanding, unique and entirely original. The Plum Magnetic is made up of musicians who have achieved something great. They are extremely talented, they know their way around instruments and most importantly, they know how genres from a wide spectrum can interact with each other to produce an artistic beauty.

Terra Animata is out now.

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Umbrella Bed – Refill EP Review

Umbrella Bed  is a ska/2tone/alternative group whose wildly energetic live shows have brought them across Europe twice as well as many major shows in the U.S. Inspired by acts like English Beat and the Dead Milkmen, Umbrella Bed have teamed up with independent anti-racist and socially conscious label Mad Butcher Records to release the brand new EP, Refill.

Picking up on a 2Tone ska sound might have seemed like a strange choice in the summer of 1995 when Umbrella Bed first assembled itself into existence. After all, the 2Tone ska sound had a very shortlived period 15 years earlier and, without a doubt, in 1995 the newly reborn ska genre ‘third wave’ was creating a much harder edged ska sound.

Thirdwave ska was very much guided by the rise of the alternative music scene and infused ska with a more punk/grunge bent. It moved the ska sound pretty far away from 2Tone’s inherent pop roots. But 2Tone’s shorter life had also left a lot of room to explore. And explore Umbrella Bed has.

Five full length releases, hundreds of wildly energetic shows and two European tours later, doing anything but build on 2Tone’s legacy would have been a tragic loss. By taking the alternative minded but accessible framework the 2Tone sound offered and infusing it with it’s own diverse sensibilities and influences, Umbrella Bed discovered a unique blend which resonates as something different in the alternative music realm and also something with mass appeal.

The band also independently released full length albums in 1996 (King Size) and 1998 (Monkey’s and Rivets). Distributed by OarFin Records, both were solid sellers. In 2003 a relationship with German based label Mad Butcher Records marked a new phase of work. Umrella Bed has since released three albums: 2003’s Last Band Standing, 2005’s One Small Skank… and 2008’s GO on the independent internationally distributed anti-racist and socially conscious label.

Each album is wrapped beautifully in a 2Tone framework while infusing swing, punk, reggae, Latin, new wave and good traditional Jamican sounds with the Refill EP following suit. Lyrically Umbrella Bed’s sardonic take on love and politics are the well layered finishing touches.

As a live act Umbrella Bed has also played support role to a who’s who in the ska/reggae world including The Skatalities, The Specials, English Beat, The Toasters, Mustard Plug, King Chango, MU330, Mad Sin, The Selector and many others.

The band’s primary line up has rotated some over the years but has remained largely intact. Lead vocalist Hellrocket, drummer Dutch Buddha, trombonist Al Teagarden and ska’s premier French Horn player Eva Washburn have been around from day one. Trombonist O’Joya and saxophonist DJ WayCool have been with the band nearly a decade. Recent additions Franknos on bass and Rude Boy Bandit on guitar have added a new youth movement to a band on the tail end of its second decade proving there is a lot more history to come.

The band have released two new music videos in support of the EP, Two Tone Monster and Wish That It Would Stop. The new EP Refill is five tracks of ska bliss. Starting track Wish That It Would Stop introduces this band’s energy from the first note. Despite the song’s downbeaten message with the lyrics, “I live a life that I hate/I hate it/Just really hate it” this song is considerably upbeat with the ska tones lifting your mood. The second track Gone Away introduces a darker side to Umbrella Bed’s music. It has an unnerving, wistful guitar riff accompanied by a repetitive bass line and drum beat.

Got It Wrong Now is a lively, danceable number with juxtaposing lyrics. It tells a sad story about someone who has misinterpreted the intensity of a relationship, “You seem a little in doubt…I got it wrong now/You’ll never say I do”.

Two Tone Monster is a bit of a silly song about the band’s chosen choice of genre, 2Tone ska. It’s a harmless pop/ska song with some awesome trumpet solos. Dubb Away finishes the EP perfectly. As the title suggests, it’s a completely instrumental track highlighting the drum and bass rhythms. Dubb Away allows Umbrella Bed to really show off their musicality – they are brilliant at creating jazz influenced ska beats that just fit together perfectly.

After watching Umbrella Bed’s latest videos, you’ll understand why this band has the reputation it does. All the members are full of life and passion – they enjoy performing and creating music whether it be about politics or just nonsense, far from important life events. It’s a little bit like watching your Dad in a band – it’s slightly embarassing first of all, you’re not sure what to make of it but then you become proud. If these guys still have this amount of energy nearly two decades into their career, they are doing well. You can’t fault them for that.

Umbrella Bed don’t conform in the way other bands might – they don’t claim to have the best vocals, the greatest sense of fashion or looks like Kate Beckingsale or Johnny Depp. You get what you see – down to earth people making music and having fun.

The new EP Refill is out now.

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