Pepper – Pepper
1.) Deep Country
2.) F**k Around (All Night)
3.) These Hands
4.) Higher Ground
5.) Hunny Girl
9.) Come and Get Me
10.) Don’t You Know?
11.) It Was You
The Pier Album Rating:
Release Date: Sept 3rd, 2013
Release Label: Island Def Jam Records / Law Records
Website: Pepper Website
The trio, who formed in 1997 and moved to the mainland from their hometown of Kailua Kona, Hawaii in 1999, pressed pause after the release of their fifth album, Pink Crustaceans and Good Vibrations, in 2008. In 2010, the group released their Stitches EP before taking a brief break to work on their new self-titled album. “It’s the hardest thing we’ve ever done as a band to make this record,” says guitarist/vocalist Kaleo Wassman of Pepper, in speaking on the recording process of their new self-titled album. “It speaks loudly and widely to a broader audience while maintaining everything good about the band, which, first of all, is our positive attitude.” After releasing five albums, Pepper has opened a new chapter in their storied career. Drummer Yesod Williams adds, “This record feels very cohesive in a way our past releases maybe didn’t. We’ve been pigeonholed in the past so this is an opportunity to transcend all that and spread our wings even wider.”
When I received this record for review, I was not really stoked on having to listen to a Pepper album, until I could formulate an unbiased opinion on a band that quite honestly, I’m not a fan of. I think that makes what I am about to say, carry so much more weight.
I turned the album on and began driving around listening at different volumes to really hear the production, the levels, see if anything was peaking out or hiding in the mix and I began to see that this was a different Pepper album. The first three songs on the Self titled album, “Deep Country”, “F**k Around” and “These Hands” are different from anything I’ve heard from this band before. These first three songs are exactly that… songs. They are written very well, the vocal harmonies are great and the content is “mature”.
Look, these guys are not lyrical geniuses by any stretch, but on this album they have really grasped situations that we all go through in our day to day. They successfully crafted those ideas into songs with emotion, but I find it hard to believe Pepper has a hard time holding on to girlfriends.
While driving, the song “Undone” starts playing. I connected with this song so deeply that I was crying like a little bitch, realizing that this song is exactly what I am going through right now in my life. Tears falling down my face and pain in my chest, I could barely listen, but couldn’t begin turning it off. This is a breakup song. One of the best breakup songs I have heard in a long time. For this moment alone… the self-titled Pepper album earned my respect.
This is not going to be a fan favorite, but for the honesty and risk in “Undone”, it is the best song on the record. The only thing I wished I heard in the song was more of a message of overcoming this pain. It was in there during the bridge, but because of my own experience I wanted them to wrap it up with a happy ending, but that’s not life. Thank you for writing that song.
There are some old school Pepper songs focusing on the 3 piece, stripped down vibe as well, so there is something for the old school fans too, but what really stands out to me are the chances Pepper is taking on this album. It is obvious that they are exploring new sounds, challenging themselves as musicians and as fans, that is all we can ask for. We have to understand, it would have been easy for Pepper to throw together an album of 2 chord Reggae Rock songs, with catchy hooks about weed, booze and beautiful women, but they took a risk… that in my opinion, paid off.
Written & Reviewed By: Tommy Dubs (of A Sunny Place For Shady People)
[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]
Watch: Pepper – “FKAROUND (All Night)”