Hermosa Beach’s own Tomorrows Bad Seeds released their second album, Sacred for Sale, last week. Besides the sweet artwork on the cover, the disc is a big step up from their debut album Early Prayers, and another great addition to the reggae/rock pantheon of bands that keep outdoing each other. Coming out after great new albums by The Expendables, Iration, Passafire, and Rebelution’s 2009 record Bright Side of Life, Sacred for Sale finds TBS (no, not Taking Back Sunday) primed to become one of the genre’s major players.
Reflect kicks things off with a pounding guitar riff and drum beat, all of which sound crisper than they did on the first record. TBS have really improved as musicians this time around, and have expanded their sound to cover a variety of different styles of music.
Lead singer Moises Juarez delivers Reflect’s lyrics with determination, crying out to those of us who take life for granted and don’t appreciate what we have, choosing instead to think we’re indestructible by using booze and drugs. Focus on the present or tomorrow could be taken away, he says. How true.
Ill Repute starts out quietly, building to a juicy, rich guitar-driven melody, courtesy of guitarists Mathew McEwan and Sean Chapman. Juarez sings this time of worldly issues, such as the war for oil and how we’re “tired of waiting” for peace and justice. Reflect and Ill Repute form a powerful 1-2 punch to start off the album.
Uplift is next, and it’s probably my favorite song on the record. It has an irresistible vibe, led by more lush guitar melodies and some great vocals by Moises. It fits very nicely with the island vibes of a band like Iration, and especially on a playlist designed for maximum relaxation.
Not to be left out, I should note that drummer Pat Salmon and bassist Andre Davis do their jobs with great precision, providing the beat and rhythm upon which TBS layers delicious guitars and Juarez’s vocals very efficiently. They run a tight musical ship, these guys.
Slow Down changes things up a bit, as it’s a more energetic punk-inspired surf-rock party type song, complete with ska guitars. All it’s missing is a horn section. This is the song off of Sacred for Sale that I routinely have stuck in my head, specifically the chorus of you should know me better than thaaaaat. I like that TBS tried something a bit different than the standard reggae jams, as this song works very well, making it one of my faves from the album.
Only for You re-visits the easy vibes, sounding oddly familiar in the process. It’s another guitar-driven piece, just with a less excitable vibe than Slow Down. Another notable track.
Further starts out almost Led Zeppelin-ish with acoustic guitars, before moving into yet more uncharted territory for TBS. It has an almost old school throwback doo-wop feel to it, thanks to the beat and Juarez’s vocals. It threw me off a bit at first, but is a great exercise in the band’s newfound depth.
Tell Me Why and It Had to Be keep up the energy, with the latter another chance for TBS to branch out, reaching the same type of feel that Slow Down had, but with Juarez’s vocals on overtime duty. It’s another demonstration of the band’s ability to branch out to different styles that is a main characteristic of Sacred for Sale.
Sacred for Resale is a punked-up version of the disc’s title track, an interesting and worthwhile decision by the band. It acts like an “alternate version”, which I assume was probably the intention.
Creation has a vocal hook of whoooa toward the middle part that explodes into a more lively, bouncy second half that makes it another of my highlights.
Memories closes out the album as a straightforward piano-driven ballad, not something I was expecting from TBS. It’s decidedly more low-key than the rest of the tunes, but it’s a good way to end the record.
As I’ve said over and over, Sacred for Sale finds Tomorrows Bad Seeds really expanding their sound in a great way. Early Prayers was good, but it was more genre-specific than its follow-up, an album with a lot of variety that is evident in the songs I’ve mentioned.
TBS has really made a name for themselves with Sacred for Sale, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find them toward the top of this genre of music in the months to come.
Their CD Release show/party is tomorrow night (June 5) at the Roxy on Sunset…be there or be lame.