by: Jarret Lovell
The Skints – FM – (Easy Star Records)
From the very first sound on this record, you know you’re in for a treat. Opening with the sounds of a radio tuner finding a station, the dial settles on “Skint FM” – and the deejay announces that the radio show will provide the listener with a wonderful mix of sounds. Indeed! From London, England, The Skints offer a mix of reggae, dancehall, ragamuffin, even doo wop/soul. Track 2 (which is actually the first song proper) begins with amazing female vocals (Marcia Richards) “toasting” as lightning speed, with guest vocalists Tippa Irie and Horseman joining in. Meanwhile, bass, drums, keyboard and air horns complete the sound of this amazing tune. Things slow down a bit with “In the Night” – a nice mellow reggae jam. “Come to You” finds Marcia Richards at the mic again, only this time, she’s singing in an old school – Studio One – style, complete with female backing vocals (or is it her overdubbed?). This is rock steady at its best. “My War” is a politically conscience track about, well, you know. A solid album that’s a lot of fun. Tracks #1, 6, 11 and 14 are skits. OPI # 12. Full OPI screening needed.
Protoje – Ancient Future – (Imports)
Although he may be relatively unfamiliar to stateside reggae fans, Protoje has been earning a reputation in Jamaica for solid, gimmick-free reggae. With one foot in the reggae camp and another perhaps in dancehall, he sound is similar to that of Damian Marley – but with more vocal variation, and that’s a good thing. Lyrically, the songs carry important messages (e.g., “We learn every day, so be careful what you say;” “We’ll all have to change, in each his own way”), and the beats and bass are often accompanied by brass. This is a solid release from a rising star. So watch it shine. Thanks to DJ Yogi for this advanced copy. OPI screening needed. Play.