Roots of a Rebellion – A Brother’s Instinct
1.) No Control
3.) Peace & Love
4.) Half Full
5.) Dread Culture
6.) Rebel Lion
7.) Rebel Reprise
8.) Dub Control
The Pier Album Rating:
Release Date: July 8th, 2016
Official Website: ROAR Website
Roots of a Rebellion (ROAR) is a 6-piece reggae rock band out of Nashville, TN. Combining elements of roots reggae, hip hop, and rock, the group is a true testament to the scope of talent performing out of Music City, USA. Prior to 2016’s release of A Brother’s Instinct, ROAR independently released their debut album Heartifact (2014) and an EP titled Inner Light (2012). The band has shared the stage with reggae mainstays like The Wailers, Rebelution, Slightly Stoopid, and SOJA. ROAR was voted “Best Local Band” in Nashville Scene’s Best of Nashville 2015 Reader’s Poll.
For Roots of a Rebellion’s sophomore release, the Nashville-based group successfully opted for a rootsier approach than their debut album. A Brother’s Instinct pairs a vintage reggae sound with youthful spirit. The message of the album is overcoming struggle, and embracing a life of peace and love. Sounds familiar? Certainly. But A Brother’s Instinct still comes off as refreshing and original.
With a number of band members stepping up to write and sing on the album, A Brother’s Instinct connects from many different angles. There’s the clean, horn-driven reggae rock track “No Control,” which is sung by guitarist Austin Smith. “No Control” is followed up with “Stronger,” a song featuring conscious hip hop rhymes and an infectious trumpet line. In a leisurely flow, keyboardist Jeremyck Smith details an inner struggle of handling praise, letting out, “instead of being so stuck in my head, being so set in my ways, I learned to be cautious of praise, but came accustomed to homies sugarcoating my shortcomings, hidden intentions keep me like what you really want from me?”
“Peace & Love” is a relaxing tune with a sweet guest verse provided by Dan Twifford of Floralorix, a fellow Nashville reggae-rock group. It’s quite overt that ROAR enjoys stepping away from the mic at times, and getting lost in a jam. On A Brother’s Instinct this is best exemplified by “Half Full,” a trancy roots medley of melodica and trumpet. It’s not every day that a reggae band attempts to incorporate harmonica into their songs, let alone succeeds at doing it (John Popper’s solo on Rebelution’s “Closer I Get” comes to mind). But that’s exactly what ROAR does on “Dread Culture.” The song also contains my favorite lyric of the album, when Jeremyck offers, “cause I play piano they comparin’ me to Chopin, I’m so deaf to haters you should call me Dreadthoven.”
“Rebel Lion” has a great chorus, but the verses are rather boring. Each song really grew on me except for this one. A Brother’s Instinct closes with the instrumental “Rebel Reprise” and a dub version of the opening track with “Dub Control.” The latter breaks down its original track to the core before timely turning up the chorus. It brings the album full circle, allowing listeners to march out to the dub track, or start the whole thing from the top.
Overall, the album’s biggest downside is its length. At just 29 minutes, A Brother’s Instinct is half the running time of their debut album Heartifact. With one song being a dub version and another a reprise, A Brother’s Instinct seems a lot more like an EP rather than a full-length album. Adding at least two more songs would have been ideal.
However, for what music did make it on to the tape, Roots of a Rebellion brought forth a fun and entertaining selection of music. The group effort dynamic really kept the album fresh throughout, each song possessing a unique appeal. Influences like Giant Panda Guerrilla Dub Squad, Passafire, and John Brown’s Body are evident on many tracks, but A Brother’s Instinct definitely stands out as distinctly Roots of a Rebellion.
Written & Reviewed By: Brian Winters
[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]
Watch: Roots of a Rebellion – “No Control”