Review: Perro Bravo – Smoking Scorpion Tales

Review: Perro Bravo – Smoking Scorpion Tales

Perro Bravo – Smoking Scorpion Tales
PerroBravoTrack Listing:
side one:
1.) SST
2.) Last Ska Song
3.) Make A Change
4.) Girl Song
5.) The Bandy Tract
side two:
1.) Coming of the Dawn
2.) The Neighbor Hoods
3.) Jacarandas
4.) Las Salinas
5.) The Mantra

The Pier Album Rating:

Release Date: November 12, 2013
Record Label: Skunk Records
Official Website: Perro Bravo Facebook

Group Background:
The Long Beach Band, Perro Bravo, is made up of Skunk Records co-founder Mike “Miguel” Happoldt, ex-falling idol Greg Lowther on drums and Mike Long on bass. Mike “Miguel” Happoldt, is known by many as producer, sound engineer & the 4th member of Sublime. Happoldt was also part of Long Beach Dub All Stars and produced albums for Slightly Stoopid, Unwritten Law, HB Surround Sound & more. Fans may also be thrilled to know that the cover art for this release was illustrated by Opie Ortiz, artist of the iconic Sublime sun.

Album Review:
Perro Bravo’s sophomore release, “Smoking Scorpion Tales”, is screaming with authenticity and the same Long Beach flavor that millions of people fell in love with across the globe many years ago. True to their roots, they are a working class band that humbly allows their art to speak for itself. This album was a straight to Vinyl release & the 10 songs are broken up into 2 sides, which forces us to experience the album the way Perro Bravo intended, from start to finish. This is just one of the ways Perro Bravo makes it clear they are doing things their way.

Side 1 drops in with “SST”, a ripping Surf instrumental that is driven by all of the grit and style Long Beach, CA has to offer. There is a huge difference between a band “covering” genres and a band that is so ingrained in their style(s) that the sound becomes their DNA… Perro Bravo is the latter.

“Last Ska Song” resonated with what I perceived to be the love/hate relationship with the hundreds of bands that were created from the massive influence of Sublime… “Admitting that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, yet somewhere along the way all of this shit started to sound the same”. The lyrics describe what was going on in Hollywood in the late 80’s/ early 90’s with Punk Rock running its course and the resulting Hair Metal phase taking over popular music.

“Last Ska song” is a unique look into what the fourth member of Sublime thinks of its legacy and the musical culture it created; good or bad. There is something about the way Miguel drops samples in songs that is so original, uniquely his style & is a testament to his production.

Songs like “Make a Change” are what really make me love Perro Bravo. The track touches on income inequality, corporate greed and class warfare, accompanied by beautifully played classical guitar and dub production. This is a song that has an important statement and drops knowledge without being preachy or cliché.

Side 2 begins with “Coming of the Dawn” a dub heavy laid back tune that leads into the Hip-Hop influenced “The Neighbor hoods”, featuring Skunk family Kyle Mcdonald from Slightly Stoopid.

On first listen, “Jacarandas”, really just sounds like an instrumental with Miguel talking over the top until you really dig into the layers of the song… Then you hear a story with Jacaranda tree as a metaphor for short lived beauty… A beauty that once noticed is gone, as well as the paradox of this psychedelic bloom against the grimy background of Long Beach. This is a beautiful song.

“Las Salinas” is another standout to me that skates between Surf, Ska and Reggae. I love the amount of instrumental Perro Bravos included on this album as it really does make it stand on the merits of its music. The guitar all over Smoking Scorpion Tales is played well and melodically great.

Smoking Scorpion Tales is 10 songs that stand on their own, but in my opinion, this is an album best experienced from start to finish. Perro Bravo maintains a sonic integrity and warmth that is seldom heard these days, as well as lyrics that have something to say. Today, it is rare that a band can blend so many styles and still have it all sound like the same group and Perro Bravo has mastered this.

Whether it is Surf, Dubby, Hip-Hop or Rock, it is all Perro Bravo and it’s all fucking great! There is a lot of saturation and cookie cutter shit coming out these days and Perro Bravo is the counter weight that restores balance. They are the band for a fan that can get into the darker side of Reggae-Rock and cares about its influences and originality. It’s my guess that this album is not going to resonate with everyone, but for those that it does, they will love it!

Written & Reviewed By: Tommy Dubs (of A Sunny Place For Shady People)

[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]