New York quartet The Frightnrs – nowadays a trio since singer Dan Klein tragically died on June 9, 2016, from A.L.S. – celebrates the soul of rocksteady on their debut album Nothing More To Say, a set following their dark EP Inna Lovers Quarrell, which was released via Diplo’s label Mad Decent last year.
Nothing More To Say was recorded last year, prior to Dan Klein’s A.L.S. diagnosis. Dan Klein sings about aching love and lost relationships, and these themes now gain second meanings, making reference to a lost life, a life that was too soon.
Dan Klein’s pleading, vulnerable voice – sometimes singing with a captivating falsetto – suits the melancholic melodies and raw and stripped down rhythms very well. He and his three bandmates treat rocksteady with respect, care and devotion and together with producer Victor “Ticklah” Axelrod they bring vintage sounds to a new generation.
This is the first reggae album released on Daptone Records, home to Sharon Jones and several soul bands and singers. And hopefully more releases like this will come.
But for now, I have nothing more to say than just get this charming and mesmerizing album. It’s painful and sweet at the same time. Just like rocksteady should be.
U.S. producer Diplo’s label Mad Decent is probably best known for its many electronic dance music release, often with a strong foothold in the Caribbean and Brazil. But one of the label’s most recent releases is something else. Something completely else.
The Frightnrs is a four piece outfit from New York City with a passion for vintage reggae and eerie rocksteady. Inna Lovers Quarrel is their debut EP and it’s full of vintage reggae spiced with raw energy and rub a dub vibes.
The set is produced by the renowned Victor “Ticklah” Axelrod and the EP was recorded live in the studio using analogue techniques and gear. It gives the set a warm, genuine and organic sound.
Organ and piano is used heavily throughout. Just listen to the head-nodding and organ-driven album opener Argumental. A minor-chord masterpiece.
Lead vocalist Dan Klein has a soaring tone and a high-pitched voice. On Which Way he could probably be confused with the legendary falsetto singer Junior Murvin. The best cut is however lead single Admiration, which comes with a classic rocksteady beat and urgent singing by Dan Klein. The remix of Admiration comes as bit of a surprise. But if you know Cadenza and Toddla T you probably know what to expect.
A killer release, so get ready for a real treat.
Yesterday and today I had a smile on my face when I walked to work. Why? I was listening to Rob Symeonn’s uplifting third album Indigenous, a set produced by Sweden’s Jonahgold, Hawaii’s Jah Youth Productions and New York City’s Ticklah.
Jamaican ex-patriot Rob Symeonn has been recording for more than two decades, but is probably not a household name in the reggae industry, perhaps because he hasn’t been terribly productive. But his singles and albums have been very solid, and so is Indigenous.
The set holds a healthy 15 tracks, of which two are previously released singles and one already featured on Jah Youth’s Indo riddim album.
Despite being directed by three producers from different parts of the world, Indigenous is surprisingly consistent. It’s partly deep, dark and dubby, for example the haunting Life is Precious and the smoky Respect Due, but it’s also positive and uplifting, as in the skanking Grass is Greener or the joyous Because of You, a version of Japanese crooner Kyu Sakamoto’s 60s smash hit Ue o Muite Arukō aka Sukiyaki.
Rob Symeonn is a confident and sincere singer and this is certainly a strong set from an underrated and under recorded artist.
In classic Sizzla style the Original Gorgon Cornel Campbell drops his second album in just three weeks. The first one was the excellent roots album New Scroll for U.S. production trio Zion I Kings.
The latest set Nothing Can Stop Us, recorded together with UK’s music collective Soothsayers, is a different affair compared to New Scroll. It’s a varied and ethereal set firmly grounded in reggae, but with significant influences from funk, afrobeat, dub and soul.
Soothsayers have utilized the mixing skills courtesy of Yesking, Manasseh, Ticklah and Wrongtom and the sound is warm, hypnotic and swirling with lots of instruments, vocal parts and harmonies trading places in an eclectic, organic and breezy cocktail.
The horns are sublime throughout, especially in Good Times and There’s A Fire, the piano in the uplifting Never Give Up is driving and Cornel Campbell’s high pitched tenor is soothing and a little rougher and raspier compared to his heydays in the 70s.
With an album like this there’s definitely no stopping to what can happen next in the careers of Cornel Campbell and Soothsayers.