BackBeat SoundSystem – Together Not Apart
1.) Fighting Bull
2.) Hey Girl
3.) Against It All
4.) I Spy
5.) Words Are The Weapon
6.) Come Undone
7.) Losing Faith
8.) Forever Never
9.) Share With You
10.) Two Time
11.) Burning Up
The Pier Album Rating:
Release Date: Oct 14th, 2014
Record Label: Easy Star Records
Official Website: BackBeat SoundSystem Website
It’s time to bust out the world map to try and find Cornwall, England. Chances are, you won’t be able to find it very easily without looking for it on your computer. Since this is probably your first time ever hearing about Cornwall, here’s some interesting facts. It’s located in the southwestern tip of the United Kingdom’s mainland and has a warm climate, as well as the most hours of sun per year in the whole country. Reggae music likes warm climates, so a band out of Cornwall called Backbeat Soundsystem decided to set up shop in that territory, and the rest is history. They are signed with Easy Star Records and they just completed a 14-date tour in the U.K. with Easy Star All Stars. The band just released their newest album that can be heard on any music-streaming platform.
As soon as you click play, you realize that you are listening to a talented group of musicians who know what they’re doing. The horn riffs are catchy and exciting to listen to. In fact, the very first song, “Fighting Bull,” starts out with a drum fill followed by a horn riff that is undoubtedly the highlight of the instrumental section of this particular song. The vocalist section, comprised of Dean Forrest and Darren Kendall, alternate vocal duties during the chorus and verse sections of this song. The lyric-heavy verses and poppy choruses make the overall feel of the song to be enjoyable to listen to.
One of the things that separate a good album from an extraordinary album is the production, mixing, and mastering that goes behind the recording process. In this case, Backbeat Soundsystem takes the gold medal with this new album. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the production of this album. Every instrument is well accounted for on the levels, and the tweaks with the panning are very well executed. The best part of all of this is that the band gets to have their very own Dean Forrest for production duties.
A song that stuck out to me was, “Words Are The Weapon.” In this song, a sample is played that features a man saying, “If there is one principle I can emphasize, that is the most important principle underlying the prevention of violence, it would be, ‘equality’. The single most significant factor that affects the rate of violence is the degree of equality vs. the degree of inequality in that society.” For starters, in the age of lawsuits in the music industry for samples, it is completely remarkable that this band was able to use such an impactful sample for this song. This just emphasizes that the band actually has an understanding of social justice and props should be given to them for using their band as a platform to spread the message to the people. A remarkable quality is that the sample itself is subject to dub effects, which is absolutely radical and innovative! The sample is used again three quarters into the song as it is integrated with the rest of the song, and its inclusion works perfectly.
On the topic of social justice and using music as a weapon of empowerment to the people, “Come Undone,” is a track that follows “Words Are The Weapon,” and it delivers a powerful message to the listeners informing them that apathy is not an attitude that will make the world a better place.
“Burning Up,” a track near the end of the album, features some good soothing saxophone action by Tom Neale and then a horn section integrating the trumpet player, Lawrence Willoughby. This track is different from the rest of the batch, and its addition into the mix signifies that the band can easily add some jazz influences into the mix, in addition to the groovy reggae bass lines that are omnipresent in the other songs.
While the album as a whole has some great material on it, not all songs stood out equally. Some songs just didn’t seem to have enough fuel to spark up my interest in them, such as the songs “Losing Faith,” “Forever Never”, “Share With You” and “Two Time.” They’re not necessarily bad songs, they just didn’t provide any excitement like the aforementioned songs above. A stellar album should be able to power through every single track without skipping or having the listener feel like the song they’re listening to isn’t that great.
Overall though, for an international reggae band that is on the rise, this album is great. Should the band maintain the creative formula used for songs like “Words Are The Weapon,” the rise to stardom should be in the band’s near future.
Written & Reviewed By: Juan Barragan
[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]
Watch: Backbeat Soundsystem – “Fighting Bull”