As I call it, the ‘white boy reggae’ scene has been thriving for the past couple years. Bands like the Expendables, Pepper, Slightly Stoopid and Rebelution have toured relentlessly in recent years to packed houses; I saw both Rebelution and the Expendables sell out the House of Blues on Sunset last year. Adding to this slew of talented young reggae bands is Passafire, whose album Everyone on Everynight dropped on September 15th. The band, from Savannah, Georgia, is signed to Pepper’s own LAW Records, and has toured with them in the past. Their 2007 album Submersible was considered to be one of iTunes’ top reggae albums of that year, and Everyone on Everynight is the follow-up to that record.
And it follows up very nicely. While the lead singer, Ted Bowne, has a bit of a strange voice that takes some getting used to, it really fits with the music, a great blend of reggae and rock styles that makes them sound a little more substantive than the silliness of bands like Pepper and the punk-infused Slightly Stoopid. Also, the guitar work on Everyone on Everynight is rather impressive, as they employed the use of some ripping electric guitars which make the songs that much livelier; while Submersible was solid, the songs tended to have a similar overall feel and tempo to them. This time around, the songs are much more varied and have their own styles that are each memorable in their own way.
Casting of the Cares kicks off the disc, and it’s a melodic romp with some great guitar riffs and percussion. Keeping in Touch follows it up and has a nice gentle melody weaved throughout the tune, making it another highlight. Illuminate has a more aggressive rhythm, led by some kickass bass work by Will Kubly and a bouncy beat that I imagine is quite a hit in the live setting. I’ve only seen Passafire open for Pepper one time, before any of these songs were around, so I want to see them now that this album has been released to see some of these songs performed. On Here in Front of Me, the guitar again takes over, as the song is led by a riff that leads into one of the more catchy choruses on the album, with Bowne asking “Is it actually happening…right here in front of me?”. The chorus then goes into a sick melodic breakdown heavy on the percussion. The song reminds me a bit of 311, which to me is a good thing since 311 is my favorite band.
Carouser is another of the high-energy songs on the album, with more funky bass and electric guitar riffage that start the song off with quite a bang before it slows down into the verse. Leave the Lights On is another song that sounds like 311, with a crunchy riff propelling the song into mosh pit-territory (or at least the type of mosh pit that would be at this kind of concert). Keep in mind, now, when I say “sounds like 311” that’s not meant to take anything away from Passafire; the energy of these songs just echo the same type of catchy energy and masterful reggae/rock fusion that I find with 311 tunes (or at least older 311 songs). Prelectricity slows things down a bit after the power of Leave the Lights On, and as the ‘end’ of the album (before the two acoustic numbers) caps off a pretty impressive collection of songs.
This album really finds Passafire at the top of their game, and is a marked improvement over Submersible, which I found a bit too one-dimensional in sound. The band has since really fleshed out its feel and the structure of their songs, and the result is one of the better albums of this genre that I’ve heard in recent memory. Rebelution’s latest album Bright Side of Life, while also solid, is very similar in sound to their debut Courage to Grow, as the band apparently didn’t really expand their sound too greatly; conversely, this time around Passafire has expanded on their repertoire in the best possible way. I hope they soon attain the same kind of attention and fame as the other bands of this genre. They definitely deserve it.
They’re playing with the Expendables and Hawaii’s own Iration February 27th at the House of Blues on Sunset. Get your tickets now. Beanie and board shorts required, of course.