Natural Vibrations

The Circle

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    4
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An album of basic Hawaiian reggae, The Circle marks the fourth album from Natural Vibrations, a relatively young band on the scene. As with the previous three albums, there's a heavy lyrical emphasis on pot smoking as the band follows the more popular route (as opposed to the political end of reggae). The songs fall into a basic rut of simplistic grooves, which doesn't work too badly but doesn't inspire much instrumentally or lyrically. On one innovative note, in the ├╝ber-blatant "Maryjane" there's a dosage of ska added into the mix, providing a welcome changeup. Relatively simple compositions and production leave the album somewhat flat by the end. The band has won the Hawaiian equivalent of a Grammy for its reggae before, and to its credit the album is better than the bulk of the mass-produced, low-value reggae coming from the islands. Still, it pales terribly in comparison to the monolithic status of Israel Kamakawiwo'ole. It's a nice little party album, not breaking any boundaries or changing any paradigms, but admittedly not trying to. Listen to Iz first, but give these guys their due for what they've set out to do.

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