Kings and Comrades – Get Away
1.) Get Away (ft. Karim Israel of Arise Roots)
2.) You and I (ft. KBong)
3.) Right TIme
4.) One Way Track
5.) Feel the Vibes
6.) Righteous Ways
7.) Summer Nights (ft Ryan Leimkuhler)
8.) Late Night (ft. Sensamotion)
9.) Touch the Sky
10.) Don’t Have to Try
12.) Movin’ On
The Pier Album Rating:
Release Date: February 17th, 2015
Official Website: Kings and Comrades Website
Kings and Comrades is a six-piece band from the East Coast. Philadelphia is their home, and they just released their first full-length album, Get Away, which peaked at #7 on the iTunes reggae charts. The album has some guest appearances on it, including the singer of Arise Roots, Karim Israel. E.N. Young was brought in to do some guest mixing on four tracks. The rest of the album was self-produced and was recorded at the University of the Arts Recording Studio in Center City, Philadelphia.
The album starts off strong with a catchy horn line that introduces the listener to the overall feel of the album, which is relaxed and laid back. Karim Israel’s section in the song, “Get Away,” complements the song in a positive way, and the collaboration is appropriate. Some listeners might expect to hear the rest of the album have a similar feel and theme, and if that’s what you were expecting, you’re in luck. The rest of the album contains a similitude of sounds and rhythms that are pleasant to hear, in the right environment.
One of the major frustrations with this album is hearing the singer’s voice, Jeff McCaughey, through a plethora of vocal effects that at times sound robotic in nature, particularly the harmonic effect. This is evident in the slower tunes, such as “Right Time,” and is not as present in the songs with faster tempos and lyric-heavy verses. One thing that is very commendable is the saxophone solo near the end of the aforementioned song. This instrument shows that the right level of reverb and a splash of delay will make the listener ignore the shortcomings of the overproduced vocal track.
One very original song that caught my attention was, “One Way Track,” because of its compositional elements. It starts off as an acoustic piece, then with the aid of a dub machine, transitions into the regular song. The particular dub elements in this song, coupled with the keys, might remind the listener of the band, Stick Figure. This song is definitely imaginative and earns an honorary mention for its impressive compositional structure.
The song, “Righteous Ways,” shows the listener what McCaughey’s voice sounds like for a few brief moments without that harmonic effect at the beginning of the song. Much like I expected, his voice sounds amazing with fewer effects muddling his voice, and the overall album. There’s a point in the song where the harmonic vocals get reintroduced, but the fact that this song is slightly more upbeat and the lyrics have significantly more words to them, result in the effect sounding a bit masked, which is good.
Vocals and effects put aside, the album has musical integrity and the instrumental sections are very enjoyable to hear by themselves. The bass lines never fail to bring that reggae groove to the core of the listener. The horn sections are fundamental in making these instrumental sections even more special. The horns are not programmed, but are actual instruments, which is uncommon. It was a pleasant surprise, coming from a smaller reggae band from the East Coast.
Maybe what seems to be McCaughey’s signature voice in this album is an acquired taste of sound that some of the die-hard fans have already gotten used to by now. However, given the fact that this is the first full-length album by the band, and will thus be reaching a greater number of new listeners, I really do not see this combination of musical effects for vocals being able to reach the masses. I would like to be proved wrong though, and I would also love to hear a similar album with less vocal effects, because honestly, McCaughey has the voice to do just fine on his own, sans-harmonic effects.
Written & Reviewed By: Juan Barragan
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