Sublime with Rome – Sirens
1.) Sirens (ft. Dirty Heads)
2.) Wherever You Go
4.) House Party
5.) Been Losing Sleep
6.) Promise Land Dubb
7.) Best of Me
8.) Put Down Your Weapon
9.) Run And Hide
The Pier Album Rating:
Release Date: July 17th, 2015
Record Label: BMG
Official Website: SwR Website
15 years after the passing of Sublime’s front-man Brad Nowell, Sublime’s drummer Bud Gaugh and bassist Eric Wilson found a young singer/guitarist and songwriter in Rome Ramirez to release a new album with Yours Truly back in July of 2011. What started out as a surprise show in Reno, NV, propelled into the trio announcing they were reforming as “Sublime” with new singer/guitarist, Rome Ramirez. The controversy began to grow after the group booked themselves to play the 2009 Cypress Hill “Smokeout” billed as “Sublime”. After a back and forth legal battle with the Nowell Estate, Bud & Eric were able to settle and compromise with continuing on as a trio under the name “Sublime With Rome”. Part of the settlement includes the Nowell estate receives an equal share from the group as if Brad Nowell was still an active member. But the debate continues and has resonated between old & new generation Sublime fans over whether they should keep the name “Sublime” vs starting this project under a different title.
In 2011, Sublime with Rome released their debut album, Yours Truly with 15 total songs of original music behind new front-man Rome Ramirez. Shortly after the album release, and do to creative differences, drummer Bud Gaugh left the band and was replaced by renowned drummer and musician, Josh Freese. Now 4 years after their debut release, Sublime with Rome is back with their sophomore album titled Sirens and with it, they continue to bring the controversy of using the name ‘Sublime’ with only one remaining active member in Eric Wilson. The bulk of the songs on Sirens were written by Rome Ramirez working with studio engineer and producer Paul Leary.
There are 2 things I am certain of, 1…there is no way to write this review without pissing some people off and 2, fans seem to be split down the middle on what to expect from Sublime with Rome in relation to the epic legacy created by the original Sublime. Some say it is not fair to compare and the bands should be judged by their own merits, but I believe if you are going to benefit from the legacy (sold out tours, built in fan base, etc…) get ready to live or die by it.
Fans that found Sublime from discovering SWR first may actually love this record, but diehard Sublime fans are going to have feelings ranging from acceptance to downright betrayal. We are talking about one of the most influential bands in the last 30 years and everyone will be critical as expectations are massive. The comparison also can’t be lost because of the almost formulaic and forced inclusions of ska, reggae, hip hop and punk; genres the original Sublime so easily and frantically danced between that SWR can’t as authentically sell.
This album is very well produced, the band is tight and Rome has proven he has a great, pop friendly voice… but is this what fans are looking for?
The album kicks off with the title track “Sirens” featuring Dirty Heads which includes maybe the most recognizable Beastie Boys sample, foreshadowing the cookie cutter samples and scratches to follow. Hip hop influenced reggae tunes with DJ’s playing a prominent role was pretty groundbreaking in the 90’s, but hearing it now can come across played out and tired.
“Wherever You Go” is a great song, fit for the radio and will reach a new audience for the band. “Brazilla” might be my favorite on the record. The chorus has a dissonant haunting feel which complimented the lyrical themes very well. “House Party” is going to be the anthem at a party you should have never gone to in the first place and can’t leave no matter how hard you try… The forced “mother fucking house party” lyrics and delivery is a contrived effort at emotion that falls short.
“Promise Land Dubb”, a loose cover of Dennis Brown, is a 2 chord reggae tune featuring some awesome percussion by drummer Josh Freese; The fills on this one are outstanding. This song for me is the most “Sublime” tune on the record with rhythmic experimentation and sonic variances. “Skankin'” is another loose cover featured on this album, this time paying homage to ska legends, Fishbone.
“Best of Me” and “Run and Hide” are SWR’s attempt at harder rock/punk tunes, but Rome’s voice sounds out of place trying to conjure up some angst.
Production on the album is great, Paul Leary is the shit, but you would expect that from this album. The majority of the foundation of this record was recorded live, in true Sublime fashion, minimizing any excessive production. Sonically it is outstanding, but quite simply put, the song quality and writing falls short. This album is more Rome than Sublime and understanding that Rome is the principle songwriter only further illustrates that this is more Rome than anything else.
Fans new to Sublime will like this release, but fans of the gnarly, raw, uncut and unapologetic band we grew to love will find this album completely foreign to the legacy created by Bradley Nowell, Eric Wilson, Bud Gaugh, Marshall Goodman and of course, Miguel Happoldt. This is nothing against Rome, the shoes he has to fill are of one of the best and most talented singers/songwriters to come out of independent music in the last few decades and Sublime fans hold this band close to the chest.
The attachment many have to this band has to do with the believability, honesty and down right crass songwriting which showcased a vulnerability and humility of Sublime which died with Brad Nowell. Sirens is an enjoyable listen from start to finish and ranges from dark to polished and shiny, but it is missing the borderline schizophrenic personality and stylistic influence that has become synonymous with Sublime… But this is a new era; Fire away!
Written & Reviewed By: Tommy Dubs
[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: Sublime with Rome – “Wherever You Go”