Monday, January 23, 2012

Bushwood: Bushwood Album Review

   Hailing from Fort Lauderdale Florida, Bushwood is an up-and-coming band that mixes traditional reggae vibes with their own funk and rock style.  Guitarist and vocalist Steve Voronkov, bassist and vocalist Adam Moskowitz, and drummer Jon Cross released their self-titled debut album, Bushwood, back in April of 2011.  This album displays the band’s originality, blending reggae, funk, and rock into one cohesive style. 
      The album kicks off with “Red and White,” which sets the tone for the rest of the album.  Right off the bat, you are hit with an energetic drum beat and hot guitar licks that don’t ever let up.  Next comes a reggae song with a great build-up into an amazing solo, “By the Water.”  This love song about wanting to be with a girl down by the water also has a very laid back and summer vibe to it.  Another song off of Bushwood that without a doubt captures the carefree mood of summer is “Drop the Anchor.”  The presence of an acoustic guitar is calming, the chorus about the beach and friends is very catchy, and of course some amazing guitar solos makes this one of the best songs on the album.
      Another high point on Bushwood’s debut album is “In Control.”  This song starts off with some funky guitar chords, calms down into a very simple, yet catchy reggae tune, and finishes by matching the energy of the beginning of the song.  In addition, the snare drum is brought in perfectly in time with a beautiful guitar solo which will get your head bouncing.  Bushwood then calms down a bit and shows how reggae can express a wide range of emotions and feelings with their song “Ramblin’ Soul.”  The emotion-filled vocals, soothing guitar riffs, and arrangement of the song create a very calm and somber mood. 
      After showing off their emotional side, Bushwood kicks the energy back up and close out the album with their lighthearted funky reggae instrumental “Flomanja,” which captures every style that they play.  It starts off with a bouncy reggae beat that merges into funk flawlessly, slows down with some groovin’ reggae chords, and finishes off with rock n‘ roll solos and drums. 
      With reggae, rock, and funk so seamlessly intertwined, Bushwood’s debut album leaves high expectations for the future.  It shows that each member of the band is full of talent and it presents a niche sound for these Fort Lauderdale boys.  Having already written some very catchy tunes, I look forward to watching Bushwood’s bright future unfold. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Rebelution: Peace of Mind Review

After almost two and a half years without releasing any new music, Rebelution went all in for their third studio album, Peace of Mind, which includes full-length single, acoustic, and dub albums.  Showing lots of maturity and growth, the Santa Barbara natives gave a fitting description of this masterpiece, stating that “the triple-album is definitely a progression musically and genre wise from our past albums, while still grounded in reggae.”   
Peace of Mind kicks off with the band’s first single “Sky is the Limit,” featuring an energetic horn section and a classic Rebelution vibe.  This style of rock/reggae, established in their sophomore album Bright Side of Life, is also apparent in “Comfort Zone” and “Day by Day.”  In addition, the band remains in touch with their roots as the song “Calling Me Out,” with a catchy saxophone riff and groovin’ reggae beat, sounds like it’s from the Courage to Grow era.  But most importantly, these California boys grew and recorded songs that feel like a brand new Rebelution.  “Route Around” and “Closer I Get” are two passionate love songs that experiment with a new, toned-down genre and really stand out from anything else the band has recorded.  These songs are contrasted by “Lady in White,” which is full of distorted rock guitars and crashing symbols that show an unfamiliar but exciting side of the band.    
Rebelution also included four guest artists to add something new to their songs.  Lutan Fyah’s traditional reggae style makes the vibe in “Good Vibes” even better and Jacob Hemphill of SOJA compliments lead singer Eric Rachmany’s voice beautifully in “Meant to Be”.  Unlikely subject for a reggae band, harmonica player John Popper has a remarkable solo that fits the mood of “Closer I Get” perfectly and rapper Zumbi of Zion I adds a hip-hop element to “So High.”   
Finally, the acoustic and dub albums offer different versions of their 12 outstanding songs.  With new arrangements in the acoustic album and lots of unique effects in the dub album, the band created three versions of these songs that all differ enough to make each one entertaining and something new.
Rebelution’s third studio album proves why the band is on top of reggae and even multi-genre charts.  Peace of Mind not only has the classic California reggae vibe that Rebelution has mastered over the years, but also shows maturity and reveals a new, exceptional sound that can be appreciated by more than just reggae fans.