The Expanders – Hustling Culture
1.) Hustling Culture
2.) Uptown Set
3.) Piece Of Love
4.) World Of Happiness
5.) People Business
6.) Top Shelf
7.) Too Late
8.) Reggae Pops (Feat. Dan Hastie From Orgone)
9.) The Horse
10.) Iron Throne (Extended 12″ Version)
11.) Thanks For Life
12.) Flesh And Bone
The Pier Album Rating:
Release Date: June 16th, 2015
Record Label: Easy Star Records
Official Website: The Expanders Website
The Expanders began playing reggae music together in the summer of 2003, and today are one of the hardest working reggae bands in Southern California. They have come to be known for their vintage style of reggae, played in the tradition of classic 1970’s Jamaican groups like The Ethiopians, The Gladiators and The Mighty Diamonds. Their music is centered in three-part vocal harmonies and strong song writing, with lyrics that range from socially heavy to playful and upbeat.
I have been a big fan of the Expanders since the first time I saw them play. After buying a CD I quickly saw they were amongst a small group of bands that translate from the stage to studio, seamlessly. The Expanders will always make great albums filled with authentic and catchy songs simply because they are a great fucking band. Their dedication and mastery of roots music has come from their own roots weaved in the Los Angeles reggae/ska scene and influence from 70’s era soulful reggae. The Expanders in part began cutting their chops at the legendary “Blue Beat Lounge”, hosted by Los Angeles ska legend Chris Murray back in the early 2000’s.
Their third studio album, Hustling Culture, has been dropped on Easy Star Records and is exactly what fans have come to expect from this California reggae band… Vintage burners that will have everyone rocking.
The title track, Hustling Culture, can be seen as a blue collar anthem for working musicians, hustling the sound that may not be considered widely appreciated but deeply set in roots and culture. Piece of Love” is a great example of the vocal power of the Expanders, with tight harmonies supporting the lead vocal for the duration of the track.
“Top Shelf” is a ganja song which will be many peoples favorite with its uplifting message of the power of the herb to level the vibes, but also a celebration of the growing legalization across the globe. “Too Late” draws on the doo wop/motown influence of early reggae leading into the quicker instrumental, “Reggae Pops”, which is a dedication to dance floor crasher Pops aka “The soul of the LA dance floor” who passed away this year. The album quickly pulls back in to the haunting intro of “The Horse”, pay attention to the organ on this one and the almost fable inspired lyrics.
One thing that must be mentioned about this album is the lyric content, written in a simple fashion and grasping the language/ideals of simple men viewing a complex world through simple analogies. like a carpenter explaining a modern skyscraper through archaic mud and stone building techniques. This can absolutely be heard in Iron Throne and the 2 tracks that wrap the album with “Thanks for Life” and “Flesh and Bone”.
What I absolutely love about this album is when you are listening to the rhythms of the song, they could be easily mistaken for one of many Jamaican backing groups, but somehow sound unique. Their consistent three part harmonies anchor them to be compared to early Wailers or Gladiators releases but don’t come off as an imitation, rather an adaptation.
The expression ‘You can’t teach that’ continually comes to mind when thinking of the Expanders… you can’t teach that kind of song-writing and you for sure can’t teach that kind of feel. There is not a hint of popularized southern California reggae on this album, no pandering to the scene, just roots reggae recorded to tape sounding warm as hell and dripping with integrity. Whether you call it reggae, rock steady or lovers rock… it is all the Expanders and its all heavy vibes. Grab this one on Vinyl!
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]