Review: Passafire – Vines

Review: Passafire – Vines

Passafire – Vines
Track Listing:
1.) Earthquake
2.) Right Thing
3.) Souvenir
4.) Go
5.) Phony Imposter
6.) All In Our Minds
7.) Same Old Story
8.) Steam Rises
9.) Invisible
10.) Stowaway
11.) Black Dog
12.) Night Comes Easy
13.) Man of Wishes

The Pier Album Rating:

Release Date: November 11th, 2013
Record Label: Easy Star Records
Website: Passafire Website

Group Background:
Passafire formed 10 years ago in Savannah, GA. The current line-up, including front man Ted Bowne, bassist Will Kubley, drummer Nick Kubley and keys maestro Mike DeGuzman, came together in 2011 to create Start From Scratch—the band’s fourth studio album. The highly anticipated follow-up, Vines, is the band’s first release on Easy Star Records. As a band, Passafire is a breath of fresh air in the rock-reggae scene and, along with a handful of other bands, continues to make music that calls into question the confines of the scene.

Album Review:
In some ways Vines picks up where Start From Scratch left off. Passafire continues to push musical boundaries by combining elements of alternative and progressive rock, with a touch of reggae. Fans will recognize DeGuzman’s keyboards, Bowne’s vocal effects and the band’s rock-driven temp changes. In other ways Vines takes Passafire in a new direction. Vines has a hard and edgy sound, and moves Passafire slightly away from reggae and closer to the progressive sounds of Umphrey’s McGee and moe.—minus, thankfully, any overt jam band influences.

The album opens with the keys and bass-driven tune “Earthquake.” The song flows from DeGuzman’s keyboards at the start, then shifts to a quicker, rock-filled tempo during the choruses and ends with Bowne’s echoing vocals, “someday we’ll be closer.”

The tune “Go” is an example of Passafire’s ability to infuse musical elements from several genres. The song brings together layered, and swirling, synthesizers with straight-ahead rock. Will Kubley gets into the singing game by taking the lead on “Phony Imposter” and “Stowaway.” The latter starts as an Americana, acoustic tune and twists-and-turns into an indie rock (near) masterpiece. Overall, the album feels cohesive and well put together with strong arrangements, but at times the vocals get swallowed-up.

There have been many folks in the scene asking, “After Start From Scratch, Is Passafire in for a huge let down?” Vines has answered this question with a resounding “NO!” The bottom line: Vines is a badass rock album. There is nothing “knock-off” about it, and, in fact, the album sets a new standard for what can be called “reggae.” Vines pulls together progressive and alternative rock, along with hints of reggae in a way that is unrivaled by anyone is music. This is important, because like it or not, to outside listeners of “reggae-rock,” “Cali-reggae” or whatever you want to call it, is guilty of recycling the same sounds about as often as it recycles the same tours.

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]