Give'n It

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Whenever a trend is hot, one can safely assume that saturation will take place. Inevitably, labels will try to cash in, and that means signing a lot of faceless, unoriginal clone artists. That has happened with everything from disco to gangsta rap, and there was no reason to believe that it would be any different with ska-punk in the '90s. When Pepper's debut album, Give'n It, came out in 1999, plenty of alternative rockers were jumping on the ska-punk bandwagon and trying to sound like the Mighty Mighty Bosstones or Reel Big Fish (just as a lot of upstart rap-metallers were going out of their way to emulate Korn or Limp Bizkit). But thankfully, Pepper had more vision than that, and was smart enough to use Jamaican influences in its own way. This fairly promising, if uneven, debut isn't as focused or as consistent as Pepper's second album, Kona Town, would be. Nonetheless, the band deserves credit for doing its own thing -- blending alternative pop/rock, reggae, and punk, likable tracks like "Prank Caller" and "Feels Good" made it clear that Pepper wasn't just another visionless band that had modeled itself after the ska-punk flavor of the month. On Give'n It, Pepper sounds like a diamond in the rough -- a band that still has some growing and developing to do but certainly has potential. And one could hear the band's growth and development when Kona Town came out in 2002. If you had to choose between Give'n It and Kona Town, the latter would give you more bang for your buck. But this CD, despite its imperfections, indicated that Pepper was well worth keeping an eye on.

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