Review: New Kingston – Kingston University

Review: New Kingston – Kingston University

New Kingston – Kingston University
Track Listing:
1.) Life
2.) Could You Believe It
3.) Caribbean Queen
4.) Fly Away
5.) Not Afraid (Alright)
6.) Everlasting (featuring J. Boog)
7.) La La La
8.) Just One of Those Days
9.) Badmind
10.) On Me
11.) Six 30 (featuring Classiq)
12.) She Wants (Boring)
13.) Your Turn To Cry

The Pier Album Rating:

Release Date: February 5th, 2013
Record Label: New Kingston Music
Website: New Kingston Website

Group Background:
New Kingston is truly a family affair. The band is composed of brothers, Courtney Panton, Stephen “Suki” Suckarie, Tahir “Slim” Panton, along with band leader and father Courtney LJ Panton. The vocalist/instrumentalist group formed in 2006 to create the sound they dubbed, “Reggae Crossover”— which blends elements reggae, R&B, pop, jazz and hip-hop. New Kingston has worked with Morgan Heritage, Shabba Ranks and is known to many music fans as Collie Buddz’ backing band. However, New Kingston is more than a “backing band,” having received recognition both domestically and internationally for their second album, In The Street.

Album Review:
In many ways, New Kingston’s latest effort, Kingston University, picks up where the trio’s sophomore album, In The Street, left off. The trio stayed true to their self-described sound, “Reggae Crossover.” Kingston University seamlessly blends R&B, pop, hip-hop, with a splash of reggae, to create a listener-friendly and accessible collection of songs. The album showcases strong individual vocals, tight harmonies, catchy melodies and solid production.

The album features two collaborators, including J Boog. The Compton, CA native lends vocals to “Everlasting”—a time-tested story about relationships and searching for the right “one.” The album also features a remixed version of Billy Ocean’s 1984 pop hit “Caribbean Queen.” The creative remix almost completely deconstructs Ocean’s song, leaving only parts of the original chorus recognizable.

While there is little doubt Kingston University demonstrates New Kingston’s genre blending sounds, the album borders on overproduced at times—with several tunes featuring layered vocal tracks, auto-tuning, vocal distortions and synthesized percussion. The album’s studio-heavy feel doesn’t showcase New Kingston’s strength as individual musicians. For me, the stripped down feel of “Fly Away” makes it one of the album’s strongest tracks. The song features an acoustic guitar, simple percussion and a catchy chorus—all ingredients to a great song. While not as simplified as “Fly Away,” songs “La La La” and “Life” are up-tempo, catchy, reggae-infused tunes sure to catch the ear of listeners.

In all, Kingston University is a strong effort from New Kingston. The band’s blend of reggae, R&B, pop, jazz, and hip-hop, or “Reggae Crossover” as they call it, is up-beat, catchy and fresh. Kingston University continues the band’s musical progression, but I, for one, would love to hear many of these new songs simplified with traditional instruments and less production.

Written & Reviewed By: Kit Chalberg

[Editor’s 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]