Arden Park Roots – Burning The Midnight Oil
1.) Write Your Wrongs
2.) Grateful That the Sun Shines
3.) The Music (ft. Spice 1)
4.) As Long as You’re There
5.) I Could Never Be Wrong
7.) Hey Girl
8.) Stormy Weather
10.) When I’m With You
11.) Not A Day Goes By
12.) Hair of the Dog
The Pier Album Rating:
Release Date: April 20th, 2014
Record Label: Anxiety Boy
Official Website: Arden Park Roots Website
From humble beginnings in California’s capital, Arden Park Roots has since sprouted into a nationally recognized band in the reggae-rock community. Since 2007, Tyler Campbell (Vocals), Nick Ledoux (Guitar), Spencer Murphy (Bass), and Jason Duvall (Drums) have released three previous albums: 2008’s The Hard Way, 2010’s No Regrets in the Garden of Weeden, and 2011’s Pipe Dreams, the latter of which debuted at number two on the iTunes reggae charts. In 2012, APR was honored by their hometown by being inducted into the Sacramento Music Hall of Fame, and more recently completed their first national tour in 2014, followed by the release of their newest album, Burning the Midnight Oil through Campbell’s label, Anxiety Boy.
American-made reggae often carries the stereotype of being influenced by two things, Sublime and the marijuana leaf, and in the case of this album, it seems like that stereotype lives on.
Starting with the opening track “Write Your Wrongs,” the mellow and melodic instrumental track is drowned in layers of reverberated vocals that sound a lot like an impersonation of Brad Nowell. Like several tracks on this album, the tempo and tone of Tyler Campbell’s vocals on “Write Your Wrongs” give the song a more abrasive feel than necessary.
The music slows down momentarily for “Grateful That the Sun Shines,” a song that seamlessly blends Campbell’s vocals, Murphy’s bass line and the easy plucking of Ledoux’s guitar strings.
We hear the return of Campbell’s abrasiveness on “The Music,” a song that’s at it’s best during rapper Spice-1’s guest appearance. The album hits it’s stride from tracks four through six, as it starts to adopt a more significant rock sound on “As Long as You’re There,” “I Could Never Be Wrong,” and my personal favorite on the album, “Jolene,” which are all better suited to Campbell’s voice and also accentuate the skill of both guitarists.
The album reaches a cliché lull through two generic roots songs; “Hey Girl” and “Stormy Weather,” before picking up again with politically influenced “Revolution.”
The tempo of the music slows down for the final songs, and eventually fades out with the simple but enjoyable acoustic track “Hair of the Dog” to close the album.
Overall, I feel like Arden Park Roots are a band that’s still in the process of finding their identity. Tyler Campbell has a good voice and he’s accompanied by great musicians, but his tone and tempo often feels like a mismatch with the mellow instrumentals provided by his band-mates on this album. I think APR would best be suited as a rock group who utilizes reggae influences in their music, rather than a roots/rock group.
In an interview with a Northern California based site, Campbell was quoted as saying, “When I write lyrics, I usually don’t reveal them to my band-mates until I hit the vocal booth. It’s one thing to show them words on a piece of paper, totally different expressing the emotion and inflection behind them.” While this may be Campbell’s preferred methodology, I believe the band’s future releases could definitely benefit from some new perspectives.
Written & Reviewed By: Andrew Aroche
[Editors Note: All reviews are reflective of the album in it’s entirety, from start to finish. These reviews are the honest opinion of each writer/reviewer expressing their feedback as a genuine fan of the music. Each star rating reflects their review of the album, NOT the band. Music is subjective. Regardless of the review or star rating, we encourage you to listen to the music yourself & form your own opinion. Spread the awareness of all music in its art & contribution]