If you’re not familiar with Bumpin’ Uglies, they’re a 3-piece white-boy reggae group from Maryland and with their latest EP, Sublime with No One, they’re likely garnering more attention for the EP title than they are the new songs on the EP…
The 5 track EP dropped on October 16th via their own Bandcamp page. The title, Sublime with No One, is what mainly sticks out on a cover that strongly resembles Bad Religion‘s cover-art for the iconic release of No Control.
At first, this EP looks like a statement release towards the reformation of Sublime by parodying Sublime with Rome. When I asked lead-singer Brandon Hardesty what the correlation was, he replied: “The title was just something we thought was funny. We’re always hearing from people that we sound like Sublime so we just thought we’d embrace it.”
Let me say that the group is Sublime-y with their sound, but with respect to Brandon Hardesty, he has his own unique vocal delivery that I would in no way mistake for Sublime’s vocalist, Brad Nowell. Lyrically driven, there’s a lot of distortion guitars to open up songs that transition into clean up-skanks over walkable baselines and aggressive drums, such as the opening track with “Warning”. It’s a really fun and unique sound that I feel sticks out quite nicely in contrast to a lot of the Roots and Island inspired Reggae that’s been polarized the last few years.
It maintains it’s adolescent edge with the song “Fuck It” a long with the coming of age angst with “Maturity” and “Social Ladders”. There’s rock, punk and ska along with the occasional horns and a good amount of reggae undertones that really make this a fun listen.
I feel the EP title and approach, however, brings the wrong kind of attention to a group that has a good enough sound to stand on their own without the crutch of name-dropping Sublime for no reason other than to be funny.
With an EP title like Sublime with No One, my first impression was they’re throwing shade at Sublime with Rome and the songs on the EP might be representative of that. When I listened to the EP, there were no songs specific to the title and I felt that the title ultimately cheapened the music due to a bad marketing idea around a lack of identity. I walked away more with the feeling that they were just being passive aggressive towards Sublime with Rome and it compromised the musics ability to stand on its own because of how misleading the title was to what the music entails. It’s as if this was a strong ploy to attract the die-hard Sublime fans while being passive aggressive towards SWR.
While that’s what my initial impression was, the reality according to the group is that they were just playing up their fans comparison of them to Sublime.
This approach does nothing for the group other than possibly appeasing some anti-SwR Facebook groups and they’re only left with further isolating themselves from potential opportunities that SWR’s management may unknowingly have a hand in.
With all of that said, if you like Sublime, you will likely enjoy the music on this EP but you have to remove the impression that the content of their songs are in anyway Sublime or SWR related, because they’re not; other than being Sublime sounding. I’m sure fans and friends of Bumpin Uglies likely understand the humor, but you can only have one first impression and in an attempt to reach new ears, I don’t see this being a smart move.
I’m going to double down on this rant and suggest that Bumpin Uglies even consider changing their own name. These guys play good reggae-rock music, but I have a hard time taking them serious with a name like Bumpin Uglies. One interpretation of the name is that they’re some Ugly members with music that’s Bumpin’. The more likely interpretation is the visual of what the band name implies and I’ll allow your inner 12-year-old imagination to connect the dots.
The band name just feels amateur and immature which is in direct contrast to their music. How many people that work in an office would feel comfortable having Bumpin Uglies on their screen when their manager walks by? Or in school when a teacher walks by? Explaining yourself would only make it worse. I would imagine some top tier bands may have reservations with putting the name “Bumpin Uglies” on a tour poster because of the name, not the music.
I feel Bumpin Uglies limit their ability to reach new fans, not to mention tour and collaborative opportunities, solely because of the name and I honestly cannot think of another band out there that this same scenario applies to.
With all of that said, the EP is Sublimey and enjoyable, just don’t let the name and title sway you because there’s some discoverable talent here with good music. You can listen and purchase the new EP by clicking HERE!
Watch: Bumpin Uglies – “White Boy Reggae”