Sunday, May 25, 2014

Roots Music on the Radar

New roots reggae music is coming by the bushel and the pound as summer kicks in. And it's a global effort, with great productions coming out of the Jamaica, UK, Africa, Virgin Islands, Hawaii and elsewhere. As Ini Kamoze sang, "World of reggae music on yah!"

We'll discus a few releases in detail below, but start – look out for the following new titles soon in your record stores and digital retailers... New release albums: JUNE 3: Mungo's Hi-Fi Serious Time, JUNE 10: Popcaan Where We Come From, Hollie Cook Twice, Maxi Priest Easy To Love, Rebelution Count Me In, JUNE 17: DJ Vadim Dubcatcher, Mato Homework: Dub, JUNE 24: Tessanne Chin Count On My Love, Specialist Presents: Alborosie & Friends,  also also soon: Bob Marley Legend: 30th Anniversary Edition and new albums from Jah Sun and Earl 16. Also out now

Ethiopian musicians (now based in Tel Aviv, Israel), Zvuloon Dub System don't have a date yet announced for their next album Anbessa Dub. But ForwardEver has heard previews, and it's their most solid effort yet. The band plays horn-infused roots reggae that sounds like the UKs Misty In Roots or Jamaica's Twinkle Brothers. Yet Ethiopian chords, rhythms and influences are also prominent, making this an authentic blend of reggae and dub inspired by Jamaica but grounded in Africa. Highlights include solid reggae tracks like "Tenesh Kelbe Lay" and "Sab Sam," while "Yene Almaz" is a traditional Ethiopian melody. Fans of Augustus Pablo take note, and look for this one to be out summer or fall via VP Records. The band tour across the US this summer.

Sizzla has released a flurry of albums in recent months, including the XTM-produced Radical and the JohnJohn (King Jammy$ son) released Nuh Worry Unu Self.  Next up is the Mr Savona creation Born A King (Muti Music), which features solid reggae one-drop arrangements and some innovative global beats, dancehall and hip-hop backing tracks. Savona, an Australian studio whiz, utilized a 10 piece band for the 15-song album.  Guests on the album include Errol Dubnkley, Turbulence and even the dear missed rocksteady legend Alton Ellis. Listen to the entire album on Muti's Soundcloud page. Or check the player below.

We first reported on UK soulstress Hollie Cook in 2011 – and that post has become one of ForwardEver's most read! Ms. Cook is back in a big way with her new album Twice, out June 10 on Mr. Bongo Records. (Listen) With backing again by the supremely talented Prince Fatty, the album features odes to the Slits' Ari Up, and balances mature roots productions with fantastic throw-back UK lovers rock style tunes. Fans of Carol Thompson, Sandra Cross or Janet Kaye will adore this album. Seriously lush, dynamic tracks like "99" and first single "Looking For Real Love" [Watch official video] showcase Cook's smooth and relaxed yet fully realized R&B reggae delivery. She's a true gem.

On his latest album The Sound, Pressure Bus Pipe extolls his birthplace on the song"Virgin Islands Nice," but doesn't shy from fiery political and social topics throughout the rest of the album, as on "Stand Firm," Run Away," and "Cry For Humanity." Produced by Zion I Kings (Zion I, Lustre Kings and I-Grade) the album features great guest stints from Volcano, Lutan Fyah, Midnite, Ras Batch and more.  Grab the excellent official Digital Ancient remix of "Run Away" right here. It's a dubbed-out and dub-stepped up blast that suits the original's vibes well. Pressure is definitely a leader of the modern roots army, and The Sound is a worthy example of his powerful vocals and conscious messages.