Back in 2006, the boys from Bedouin Soundclash said sayonara to their long-time label, Stomp Records, and decided to test the waters out at Side One Dummy Records instead. As they continued to shake-up their reggae, dub, and soul influences into their signature sound, the end result was their rock-solid third album, Street Gospels , released in August 2007.
After seeing the Toronto-based Bedouin boys live in Victoria last year, I was definitely excited to bust a couple of impromptu moves to their brand spankin' new tunes. Let's just say that the record mixes a little bit of old, with something new, while melding some borrowed sounds, while being seeped in reggae roots. All of the 13 tracks weave together Jay Malinowski's hint of Brad Nowell-esque vocals and synchopated guitar riffs, with Eon Sinclair's hypnotic bass lines and Pat Pengally's skankin'-friendly drumbeats, to create a fresh new take on the dub sound. And even though Bedouin Soundclash don't need any extra street cred, the incredible Bad Brain's bassist, Darryl Jenifer, just happened to produce Street Gospels as well as their equally critically-acclaimed, Sounding a Mosaic. While the band is a far-cry from Jenifer's own hardcore band, he craftfully captures the distinct musicianship of each bandmember without over-producing the trio's soulful sound in accordance with his own punk rock ethics.
Even though Street Gospels deserves a couple of good full listenings, here are a few tracks that instantly caught my fancy:
"Until We Burn in the Sun (The Kids Just Want a Love Song)" kicks off the album with a very catchy roots reggae bassline and offbeated guitar licks, which meld perfectly with
Malinowsky's melodic rhymes--"Popping a collar and kicking down the street/Kick it, kick it, kick it to the friends you'll meet/ Beats to beats move our broken club feet/ On the offbeats and in the Middle East...."
"Hush" is the band's acapella offering that sounds remarkably like a gospel hymn, completely with hauntingly beautiful minor-key harmonies.
"Nico on the Night Train" sees the band blending a classic 50s chord progression (ie. remember "Oh Donna"?) with a standard reggae riff, as Malinowski's lyrics heartfully speak of a girl he once knew who is now living on the streets.
"Jealousy and the Get Free" is reminiscent of smooth old school dub tracks that sway like a hypnotic pendulum to a trance-like drum and bass.
"Midnight Rockers" carries Malinowski's almost singsong lyrics--"As scenester kids look for new school shockers/on the horizon comes a midnight rocker"--on board a rolling bassline and understated drums to create a really groovy Bedouin tune.
Even though Marley, Tosh, and Wailer have enormous shoes to fill, Bedouin Soundclash are still making a memorable mark in the new reggae-dub scene. If you're into this genre, make sure to check out some of the tracks above or take a peak at Bedouin Soundclash's myspace for a full listening of some selected songs.