Archive for the 'Music' Category

21
Jul
10

Rock Reggae Revival

The Dirty Heads

By Ben Linton

Way back in the ’70s, a man named Robert Nesta Marley  brought the reggae scene to a whole other level with his rocksteady grooves and sweet, simple melodies. He made the whole world “get together and feel alright.” His impact on future musicians would be immense, as many would fuse their own styles with the skanking rhythms heard on Marley’s songs.

In the ’80s, artists like The Police and The Clash flirted with reggae fusion, but this genre didn’t real start to take shape until the ’90s when artists like Sublime, 311, UB40, and No Doubt all had a very present reggae element in their music.

Now that movement is being resurrected by a bunch of new artists. Bands like Slightly Stoopid, Pepper, The Expendables, Passafire, and Rebelution have helped keep the torch lit for this genre. You can now add the Dirty Heads to that list, as they may become the most popular band of all. With only one album to their names, the Heads have made Billboard history, by becoming the first independent label artists to have a number one song at alternative radio stations for 11 weeks in a row.

Any Port in a Storm (Deluxe Edition)

“Lay Me Down” featuring Rome Ramirez of Sublime with Rome, is the hit that has topped the charts and brought The Dirty Heads to heights never imagined for the Southern California band. The song is number one on both alternative and rock charts in the United States, the first time in history a band from an independent label has done so.

The Dirty Heads have already reached a level that other reggae/rock bands have not with only just one album to their credit, showing how much potential this group has. DH has multiple styles that make them very unique, their debut album Any Port in a Storm has many rock, reggae, ska, hip hop, and dancehall components that show the band’s talent to blend all these genre smoothly into one sweet sound. The band’s core sound lies in rapper/singer Jared Watson and guitarist/singer Dustin Bushnell. Songs like “Neighborhood” and “Hip Hop Misfits” are more edgy hip-hop songs, where Jared Watson reminds one of the Beastie Boys and Eminem. On songs like “Believe” and “Driftin’,” Bushnell takes over and shines with his bluesy guitar licks and catchy chorus melodies.

Believe


Neighborhood

The whole rock/reggae scene seems to be on the rise lately, and The Dirty Heads may just be the band to pave the way. The band has already had huge success, and the best is yet to come for these guys. Check this band out if you are lacking a good summer soundtrack.

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25
May
10

Look At All The Love We’ve Found: Bradley Nowell Tribute

By Ben Linton

Hey everyone. So today I felt in the mood to write about something different besides sports to give this blog a little change of pace and switch things up a little. I’ve decided to write a tribute to one of my favorite musicians and influences, Bradley Nowell, who died 14 years ago on this exact date.

Music always played a prominent role in Bradley Nowell’s life from the beginning. His mother Nancy was a singer that had perfect pitch and his father Jim played folk songs on the guitar. On holidays, Bradley would play and sing songs with his Dad, grandfather, and uncle for hours and hours at a time. From the beginning, Bradley and those around him new that music was his gift and he would one day share it with the world.

Bradley James Nowell was born February 22, 1968 in Long Beach, California. At age 10, his parents split up and Bradley went to live with his mom for four years. Bradley’s life was forever changed when he went on a trip to the Virgin Islands and discovered reggae music at age 11. When he moved back to Long Beach with his Dad, he was able to blend the music he heard in Jamacia with the surrounding genres that were present at the time and created a beautiful sound.

At age 13, Nowell started his own band, Hogan’s Heroes. This was how he met bassist Eric Wilson. Then when Nowell went to Cal State Long Beach for college he met drummer Bud Gaugh. In 1988, one semester before graduating from school, Nowell dropped out to chance his dream. The trio formed a band and Sublime was born.

Sublime from left to right, Bud Gaugh (Drums), Eric Wilson (Bass), Bradley Nowell (Guitar/Vocals)

At first the band just played at a couple clubs and house parties around Southern California. They had become very popular along the campus of Cal State Long Beach and were well known from San Diego to Santa Barbara. The band created a perfect blend of ska, dub, punk, funk, rap, and reggae that was easy on the ears but at the same time very emotional and powerful.

In 1992, Sublime released their first album, “40 oz. to Freedom” under Nowell’s record label of Skunk Records. Nowell would sell copies of the CD from the trunk of his car after every show. The album sold 60,000 copies and although Sublime was very popular among the inhabitants of Southern California, they had not landed a deal with a major record label.

Sublime-Date Rape

Due to his frustration and rejection from major record companies, Nowell began to experiment with drugs like Heroin and Cocaine. He felt justified in his abuse, arguing that it aided his artistic creativity, which would increase the chances of Sublime attracting major labels. Part of Nowell was never satisfied, because he was never able to achieve the mainstream success that he so greatly desired. In 1994, Sublime’s second album, “Robbin’ the Hood” was written at the peak of Nowell’s heroin abuse, which is prevalent in many of the tracks. In the song “Poolshark,” Nowell foreshadows to his own demise with the lines “Now I got the needle, and I can shake/ But I can’t breathe/ I take it away but I want more and more/ One day I’m gonna lose the war.”

Poolshark (Acoustic-Sublime)

About a year later, a Los Angeles area rock station KROQ began playing the single “Date Rape” from 40 oz. to Freedom. This eventually led to Sublime being signed to the Gasoline Alley label of MCA Records by Jon Phillips, who subsequently became the band’s manager. Due to this success, Nowell decided to clean up and went to rehab. In 1995, Sublime co-headlined the Vans Warped Tour. Also around this time, Nowell began to start dating Troy Denkker.

Brad and Troy met in 1993 at a Sublime show in San Diego. Troy was somebody that Nowell could confide in about his abuse, and she was there to nurture him and take care of him. When Nowell went into rehab to clean up, Troy found out that she was pregnant. They had a beautiful baby boy named Jakob, who was born 11 months prior to release of the self-titled album. The two decided to get married and buy a house and start a family and begin a new chapter in their lives. But Bradley decided to regress into his old habits and began doing drugs again. He figured that he had everything he needed; a Wife, a Son, a House, that he should be able to reward himself for his accomplishments with no harm done.

Bradley signing to his son Jakob, inside cover of the album "Sublime"

In 1996, Sublime began recording their final album “Sublime.” His drug use was so bad that it led him to pawn off his instruments, influencing the song “Pawn Shop.” On May 25th, 1996, seven days after his marriage to Troy, two months before the release of Sublime’s next album, Bradley Nowell overdosed on Heroin at the Oceanview Motel in San Francisco and died at age 28.

When Nowell died, he was tired of letting people down, including himself. He was tired of trying to stay clean. Everything had just taken its toll and eventually this led to his downfall. When Bradley Nowell died, Sublime died.

When “Sublime” was released, the band just began to get famous, which Brad would never live to see. They entered the Billboard Top 20 with the single “What I Got.” The song went to No. 1 on the Modern Rock Charts. In 1997, Sublime continued to churn out hit after hit, followed by “Santeria,” “Wrong Way,” and “Doin’ Time.” The album has sold 2 million copies to date.

In light of this success, Bradley Nowell can finally rest in peace. His lifelong dream had come true, even though his short-lived time on earth was never able to see it happen. Most people don’t realize that he is dead, I constantly find myself reminding people that there will be no more Sublime albums with Bradley on vocals or guitar.

I truly believe that Sublime would have become one of the most popular rock-reggae bands of all time, and enjoy the success of bands like Green Day and The Offspring. They played a critical role in reviving punk music in the 1990s, and even gave birth to ska-punk in Southern California. Their music was such a perfect fusion of dance-hall, fun-loving vibes with rock-steady reggae rhythms and an aggressive punk edge. Their ability to switch between these different grooves, sometimes in the same song like “Seed,” was truly uncanny. They paved the way for so many other bands like No Doubt, Slightly Stoopid, and Pepper. Eric and Bud have tried other projects such as Long Beach Dub All-Stars and have recruited Rome Ramirez to become the new frontman of their band Sublime with Rome, but nothing will ever come close to sounding like Sublime or Bradley ever again.

So I leave you all with quotes from Nowell:

“Livin with Lou Dog’s the only way to stay sane, Let the lovin’, let the lovin’ come back to me” –What I Got

“Just let the lovin take ahold, cuz it will if you let it,” –Boss D.J.

“All that I need, Look at all the love we’ve found” –S.T.P.

R.I.P.

19
May
10

The Expendables: Album Review

By Ben Linton

Now that summer time is almost here, a lot of good ska bands that play great music for those summer days are releasing new material. The Expendables are ska band from Santa Cruz, California that has a unique blend of styles, playing anything from metal to reggae, sometimes even switching back and forth between songs. On May 11th, the band released their newest album Prove It and did not disappoint, giving fans exactly what they expected and wanted. However, as noted by the title, with this album (the band’s fifth), the guys felt like they had something to prove. They wanted to show that they have grown as a band, and can expand out into new musical territories and succeed while doing so.

This can be shown in the first track How Many Times when the vocals hit you right in the face as the song starts. But if you listen closely, somethings sounds different from the typical Expendables song. Singer Geoff Weers’  changes his voice to a lower sound, rather than the more unique and distinct style that we were used to hearing. Many times on the album he changes his signing voice depending on the song, because in the following track “Get What I Need,” he goes back to his old singing ways. Just another exampleof the band experimenting with something new on the album and still sounding solid.

Since this the same band that gave you “Bowl for Two,” you know that there will be a track about a certain green substance on the album. This time, it is Come Get High. But don’t underestimate the song even if you are rolling your eyes at the meaning. This is actually a very well put together track and has more dimensions to it then previous Expendables songs. Another highlight of this album is “Positive Mind,” a song with a catchy guitar licks, a relaxing vibe, and very happy, inspiring lyrics. The following track, “Night Mission” may be one of the band’s best musical tracks; you really feel like you are on a night mission when you listen to it.

One thing that really impressed me with this album was the growth of drummer Adam Patterson. Not only are his drum beats better from previous albums and fills more advanced than before, his vocals are superb. Adam has never been the main singer on any of the Expendables hit songs, and frankly some of his songs were boring, but this time around all of the songs he sings are very well put together. For example, “I Ain’t Ready” is a groovin’ song with jazz instruments, which is the first time The Expendables have implemented brass instruments on any of their songs. “One Drop” is an upbeat, happy, and fun song with a very catchy chorus. Coming from one drummer to the next, I give him lots of props because people often underestimate how hard it is to play the drums and sing, let alone do both at the same time while still sounding good.

With this new album, the Expendables have kept the rock/reggae scene alive and running and have definitely proven their point. I highly recommend that you hit up your nearest CD store and check this album out.




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