Unified Highway – Unified Highway
1.) The Beginning
3.) My Space
4.) Distraction (feat. Garrett Douglas)
5.) Stand Proud (feat. Shana Halligan, Tahir Pantonand & Keznamdi)
6.) Cuatro Veinte
7.) My Only (feat. Busy Signal)
8.) Rain Day in Autumn
9.) Sam Thing Coming (feat. Zion I)
10.) Losing My Religion
11.) We Can’t Fall (feat. Courtney Panton)
12.) Never the Same (feat. Sophia Scott)
The Pier Album Rating:
Release Date: March 4th, 2016
Official Website: Unified Highway Website
Rebelution vocalist/guitarist Eric Rachmany and Amp Live (formally of Zion I) meet on the same road to travel together in their creation of Unified Highway. Back on August 5, 2014, Amp Live released a solo album titled, Headphone Concerto and the fourth track on that album, “Signs,” featured Eric Rachmany. We imagine this is where the foundation of today’s Unified Highway began. The collaboration was formed to craft great new music with a unique sound unlike any other. Click HERE to read more on this formation. As Eric told us, “Although this project is primarily Amp Live, and myself, many members of the band played instruments. All the horn parts were done by our horn section Zach Meyerowitz and Khris Royal. Rory contributed some keys and melodica to the project as well. Wes did some percussion.”
Is this a start to finish listen of an album? Digitally, no. Vinyl, possibly. Are there some good songs on the album? Yes, absolutely.
Digitally, I think a lot of these songs may be tough to keep in your digital rotation long-term. Some album stand-outs that are worthy of my ever evolving home-made, but never publicly heard ‘Get Me Thru Traffic Mix’ would be “My Space,” “My Only,” “Rainy Day In Autumn,” “Never The Same,” and the cover of REM‘s “Losing My Religion.” It was a brilliant choice to cover REM, and by far my favorite track off the record.
While the album includes its ever vibrant influence of reggae, this Unified Highway takes a detour experimenting outside the norm with electro-hip hop dance tracks that carry almost a club element to a few of the songs.
Are we that committed to this album for it to take up physical Vinyl space? If you’re a big Rebelution fan, then you absolutely buy this record on vinyl (and in general). And to be honest, I believe this album would be best enjoyed on Vinyl. That’s not to say you can’t rock this digitally from start to finish, but if your digital habits are as flighty as mine, then I don’t see you making it through 12 tracks (and a 14 second intro) without being distracted by something else.
Circling back to the hip-hop club appeal in the breaks of some of these songs would make it a really fun live show, especially with Eric’s mic-control. I don’t feel that same energy connecting with me on the same level while listening privately, but live, I think the majority of these songs would kick-ass as it would be fun to hear and experience “Losing My Religion,” “Same Thing Coming,” and “Stand Proud.”
Throughout the album, Eric has a great way of connecting with his audience through his delivery and lyrics. He’s clear, poetic and exceptional in vocalizing the tone of any song he is out in front of. He’s not going to bubble over a song, or blow you away with any hard hitting rap verses, but he’s going to produce something that you will sing a long and/or hum the melody to.
With that said, I also feel like a lot of his melodies run a bit too consistent to each-other where I sometimes felt like this album could be perceived as a remix of some Rebelution songs where a similar melody was previously used. With so much reggae to his name under the success of Rebelution, I was really hoping for more experimentation outside any reggae chucks or anthems. The reggae based songs just sound like a continuation of the Rebelution catalog, which isn’t a bad thing, just a bit underwhelming under the flag of a new side-project.
On the whole, I credit this album for experimenting more outside the common reggae chucks and horns. There’s reggae, but this album embraces the sampling and experimentation of something new, which I really enjoyed in some areas and not so much in others. I just wish there was more of that experimentation to differentiate itself from what Rebelution found success in.
It’s important to take your time towards absorbing something new and experimental to allow yourself time to adapt to the bigger influence of its presence. I believe you’ll have the best opportunity to do that with this record on Vinyl. Otherwise, you have a few songs on here to take with you on your evolving digital journey. Keep in mind that this is a Unified Highway of uniting the reggae influence of Rebelution and the hip hop influence of Zion-I, and from that perspective, this album stays true to its theme.
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]
Watch: Unified Highway – “My Space”