Review: Bootleg Rascal – Asleep In The Machine

Review: Bootleg Rascal – Asleep In The Machine

Bootleg Rascal – Asleep In The Machine
Bootleg RascalTrack Listing:
1.) Head In The Clouds
2.) Oh I Know
3.) Holding On
4.) Asleep In The Machine
5.) Shade
6.) Bones n Bricks
7.) Under Lights
8.) My Good Friend
9.) Drop The Gun
10.) Scars
11.) Kings And Queens
12.) Coming Home

The Pier Album Rating:

Release Date: January 8th, 2016
Record Label: Sureshaker Music
Official Website: Bootleg Rascal Website

Artist Background:
Fresh out of East Coast Australia, Bootleg Rascal is a four-piece band that craftily intertwines reggae, psych rock, dub, and hip-hop. Since the band formed in 2013, they have quickly gained traction Down Under from Psychotica, their 2014 6-track EP, as well as a relentless touring schedule throughout their homeland. Despite their original lead singer Dan Crestani deciding to leave the band to pursue a solo career, Bootleg Rascal has been able to keep stride by adding Carlos Lara’s smooth yet gritty voice to fill the vacancy left by Crestani. Currently the band consists of the aforementioned Carlos Lara (Lead Vocals/Guitar), Jimmy Young (Lead Guitar), Scottie Grills (Bass Guitar/Synth), and Jack Gray (Drums). Bootleg Rascal performs under the tight knit Sydney based record label Sureshaker Music, which also houses Sticky Fingers, Lyall Moloney, and Boo Seeka.

Album Review:
In their first full length release, Asleep In The Machine, Australia’s Bootleg Rascal breaks out all the bells and whistles. The Rascals effectively lace psychedelic synthesizers over reggae rhythms, and often transition smoothly from one genre into the next in the blink of an eye. Influences from Indie Rock duo Broken Bells and label-mates Sticky Fingers are apparent throughout, but by the end it is clear that Asleep In The Machine is uniquely Bootleg Rascal.

“Head In The Clouds” leads off the album with a triumphant horn intro that signals the arrival of a beefed up sound and production quality from Bootleg Rascal. A little more than halfway through the track, the beat drops and fellow Sureshaker Music artist Lyall Moloney checks in to deliver a curve-ball rap verse. Then the horns return and the band sings a sweet harmonized anthem to close it out.

The album’s second track, “Oh I Know”, features a heart thumping bass line that serves as the backbone to a catchy chorus. Lead singer Carlos Lara also displays some of his vocal grit in the song’s second verse, exclaiming on the Rascal’s behalf, “Here we are, won’t you let us play our show?” then warning “we’ll be sure to leave our mark.”

“Holding On” is a solid tune, but is overshadowed by being sandwiched between “Oh I Know” and title track “Asleep In The Machine”, two of the strongest songs on the album. The latter is very similar to the sound created by Broken Bells on their debut self-titled album.

“Shade” and “Bones n Bricks” aren’t total snoozers, but if there was a time to take a bathroom break, this is your best chance. The second half of an album is often where you wonder whether the band should have just spared us all the filler tracks and released an EP, but the second half of Asleep In The Machine is actually ripe with quality songs. Bootleg Rascal quickly brings us back in with “Under Lights”, an extremely catchy song that features some of guitarist Jimmy Young’s simple, yet mesmerizing and spatial riffs. “My Good Friend”, the longest track on the album at nearly 6 minutes, begins with a dubstep backdrop that leads into an extended reggae dub, but also features some vocal stacking and distortion reminiscent of Kendrick Lamar’s album good kid, m.A.A.d. city.

“Kings and Queens” is one of the weaker tracks, lacking one of the catchy choruses or groove inducing back-beats that are exhibited throughout the rest of the album. However, the album closes out on top with the fun and upbeat song “Coming Home”. The horns return once again, this time preparing us for the end of the album, but the Rascals go out swinging with an emphatic, well layered anthem of vocals to wrap up both the song and the album.

Psychotica, the band’s 2014 EP, was certainly much heavier on acoustic guitar and reggae riffs than Asleep In The Machine (it isn’t until the end of the last track “Coming Home” that we even hear an acoustic guitar), but Bootleg Rascal’s first full length is a definite success and sign of things to come. Asleep In The Machine flirts with a wide scope of genres, yet it flows smoothly and holds tight at the seams.

Written & Reviewed By: Brian Winters

[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: Bootleg Rascals – “Asleep In The Machine”