CIMS In The Groove
Fourteen years into an effervescent career, California reggae band and touring juggernaut Rebelution remains abundantly creative. Its members (singer/guitarist/lyricist Eric Rachmany, keyboardist Rory Carey, drummer Wesley Finley, and bassist Marley D. Williams) are as focused and committed as they are easygoing and laid-back. And they haven't lost a step since Falling Into Place, their 2016 studio album, became the band's fourth release to top the Billboard reggae chart, earning them their first ever Grammy nomination in the category of Best Reggae Album. Ever expanding and reaching wider audiences, the Rebelution phenomenon continues to spread good vibes on tour, and in the studio.
Free Rein, their sixth studio album, while still rooted in the Jamaican inspiration that Rebelution's songs and sounds have always paid homage to, takes experimental leaps and new adventures too, welcoming old fans and new audiences alike. The musicians collaborated with Jamaican artists on three of the 12 new tracks. Don Corleon (Sean Paul, Rihanna) produced Rise On Top, a pointed reflection on celebrity and ambition; and Winta James, producer for Damian Marley and Chronixx, worked with the band on Settle Down Easy and City Life; two songs that reflect a more confessional perspective.
Celebrate, the new album's opening track, nods to the classic Rebelution sound. It has special meaning for the band too. In their long months on the road they've met fans with health struggles who've said that their music has helped them get through tough times. An energizing shout-out to one and all, the song celebrates the oneness of artist and audience.
Patience, a reggae-R&B hybrid, is another hymn to human connection, a haunting message from the well of romantic love: Maybe isn't good enough / I'm patient, I ain't giving up…Can I be your everything and more?
Other tracks take a wider perspective. City Life; is one that hits home for Rachmany. There are moments, he says, speaking for urban dwellers everywhere, when I just want to get out and find some solitude and find the beauty of mother nature.The uptempo groove conveys the positive energy of this universal desire.
The band remains in touch with the traditions that it builds on. Much of the style, the songwriting, and the quality of the instrumentals derive from Jamaican roots, says Rachmany, stressing what an honor it is that producers from reggae's birthplace signed on to work with Rebelution.
Let's Eat Grandma, one of the most vital bands of our time, follow on the cult success of their debut album I, Gemini with the game-changing I'm All Ears. The British duo, comprised of teenage vocalists, multi-instrumentalists and songwriters Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth, have pole-vaulted expectations and preconceptions delivering something fresh, fun and meaningful. I'm All Ears is alive with furious pop, unapologetic grandeur and intimate ballads. Featuring loops, Logic, outrageous 80s drum solos, as well as production from David Wrench (The xx, Frank Ocean, Caribou), SOPHIE (famed for her own material and work with Madonna, Charli XCX and Vince Staples) and Faris Badwan (The Horrors). I'm All Ears is the most startling, infectious, innovative and thrilling record you'll hear this year.
Planet B is Justin Pearson (Dead Cross, Retox, The Locust) and Luke Henshaw (Sonido de la Frontera). The duo's music lays somewhere just out of reach of genre, with aesthetics rooted in hip hop, hardcore punk, turntablism, and 70s-80s horror movie soundtracks. Guests on the album include Kool Keith (Dr. Octagon), Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Head Wound City), Gabe Serbian (The Locust, Head Wound City), Sonny Kay (Year Future, creator of GSL Records), Martin Atkins (PIL, Killing Joke), and Joseph Karam (The Locust). The two had worked together in varying capacities prior to Planet B's formation, including Luke's remix of Justin's "A Pig's Orphan", contributions to the soundtrack of Asia Argento's film Incompresa, as well as "Variations in the Key of Afterlife", an otherworldly opus featuring Gabe Serbian and Luke. Planet B, however, marked the beginning of a full-on melding of these preternatural minds, successfully integrating key aspects of these musicians' stylistic strengths and playing off of one another with purpose. After releasing a solo 7" as well as a split 7" collaboration with legendary turntablists Invisible Skratch Piklz, Planet B's latest album is the impressively imaginative outcome of all their interdimensional efforts and collaborations.