Sublime With Rome – Yours Truly
3. Lovers Rock
5. My World
6. Paper Cuts
8. Same Old Situation
9. Take It Or Leave It
10. You Better Listen
12. Can You Feel It
14. Safe And Sound
15. Lovers Rock (Acoustic)
The Pier Album Rating:
Release Date: July 12th, 2011
Record Label: Fueld by Ramen
Official Website: Sublime with Rome Website
It’s been 15 years since the passing of Sublime’s front man Bradley Nowell & since late 2009, remaining members Bud Gaugh & Eric Wilson found a young singer/guitarist in Rome Ramirez to begin playing Sublime music again. 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”. 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.
At the time in which Sublime made their way through the ranks in the early-mid 90’s, they were in the midst of changing the way we listen, enjoy & appreciate all musical genres. They did this by crossing boundaries and merging all of their collective influences into one sound that we still can’t specifically label today. Fast forward the tape to July 12th, 2011 & the suspense of what this new album will contribute to the legacy that is Sublime is slowly unfolding & the argument continues between the older generation of Sublime fans & the new. For Rome, it’s a coming out party as he’s debuting a lot of his own songs, while the 2 remaining members of Sublime anchor him with the drum & bass. As a result, we have “Yours Truly”, Sublime With Rome.
Does a label, a name or title determine whether or not something sounds good? One of my favorite quotes from the late Bradley Nowell is “Good music is good music and that should be enough for anyone”. He said that quote during an interview that referenced wanting to escape labels and being pigeonholed by just playing whatever you want to play. Having absorbed that open-minded influence while in search of good music, I press play to Yours Truly.
Surfing through Yours Truly from start to finish, you’ll be happy to hear that signature Sublime sound of Eric Wilson, unmistakably taking the Bass line for a walk, while Bud Gaugh fires off gunshot snare drops into the smoke filled reggae lounge. Rome sounds at home behind this sound with his R&B style of singing & upbeat guitar skanks. The best example of this hard hitting reggae approach were with songs Lovers Rock, Murdera, You Better Listen and Take It or Leave It.
The album opens up in true Sublime form with their first single Panic, displaying many of the dimensions that we know as Sublime, boasting their collective influences of Punk, Ska & Reggae. It’s one of the only songs on the album where I don’t mind hearing Romes voice over distorted guitars. Rome has a very smooth & clean delivery in his singing & I feel it works against him on heavier songs such as the punk rock ballad Paper Cuts, (which reminds me a lot of the old Sublime song Hope). Same thing with the song, My World. Aside from the hook, My World‘s a like-able song, but borders the poppy chord progressions and melodies over the hook that sound like they’re fighting with Rome’s smooth delivery.
Lovers Rock really sets the bar for the album, as it makes its case for the album’s best song. It’s a timeless reggae ballad talking about the feeling of missing a certain love. Rome, in my opinion, sounds his best with this song, both behind it musically and in leading it vocally. Of the 12 songs on this album, 7 are love songs, mainly singing about the loss of love or being compromised by it. With that approach, I almost want to appropriately title the album Lovers Rock, but what’s in a title anyways, right?
The album features guest appearances courtesy of DJ Rocky Rock, Horns by No Doubt, back-up vocals by Aimee Allen on You Better Listen. Lastly, Hip Hop artist Wiz Khalifa on the Reggae-Hip Hop jammer that closes the album out with Can You Feel It; the albums sole reference to smoking herb, in this PG-13 release. Produced by Paul Leary, the album has a very clean & polished sound. This approach worked as a whole for the album, but I feel it fell short on the song Only. Rome first released Only on The Pier Comp Vol. 1 in 2009. I tended to like the production of the first release better as the bass line doesn’t quite hit like it did in the initial version. It was re-produced with a more polished sound that almost feels too shiny and bright on the vocals. I feel on this song alone, it’s missing some of that raw edge in a song that preaches independence & individuality.
I admit, because it is Sublime, it’s easy to be over critical with this release, but I’m really impressed with the songwriting & playing by Rome Ramirez. While this album is nothing groundbreaking or earth shattering, it’s a decent album with some good music & good songs. I’d recommend it to just about anyone, who’s a fan of good music. There’s something for everyone, as is the case in all Sublime releases. From hip hop, to reggae, punk rock to ska & beyhond, this release even shows a more pop side with it’s content & sound. Songs such as PCH & Spun, that’s drenched in bubble gum SoCal reggae that strays far from the streets of Long Beach.
Sure, it’s hard not to compare this to the prior iconic releases of Sublime, but if we get too caught up in comparing, we miss out in appreciating the good music this album has. Like decent wine that gets better with age, I feel its quality improves with each listen. The more I listen to this album, the more I appreciate the contribution. While no title would change my opinion of how I feel a song or album sounds, the trio may be better described as “Rome with Sublime” with “Lovers Rock” as the album title. At least that’s the topical impression the album left me with. Either way, it’s a good album brought to you by Yours Truly, Sublime with Rome.
So if you were lucky enough to pre-order “Yours Truly”, you were treated to 3 bonus songs that feel like the missing ingredient to what would appropriately balance the album out. The first bonus track is a slow saxophone driven reggae balled titled Dynamite that carries on with Rome singing & moaning over the track for close to 8minutes. Next up is the bass heavy Dubstep & 808 bumping track Safe & Sound that brings Aimee Allen back on the mic trading verses with Rome. Lastly, they included a wonderful acoustic rendition of Lovers Rock. This was one of the best surprises on the album. Maybe I’m easy to please, but it’s always nice when they include an acoustic version to your favorite song on the album.
Written & Reviewed by: Mike Patti
[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]