One Night Band

Way Back Home

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Thanks to a near-constant influx of Jamaican immigrants to Toronto, that city has boasted a vibrant reggae scene for many years. The same has been less true of Montreal, but the One Night Band had been trying to fix that for several years by the time its debut album was released on the venerable Stomp label in 2006. Boasting a sound that draws deeply on old-school ska and early reggae as well as the work of recent revivalists (most obviously the Slackers), the One Night Band plays a combination of old-fashioned originals and judiciously chosen covers, and generally avoids adding much in the way of modern musical elements or technological flourishes: horns, organ, and chunky guitar are the hallmarks of this band's sound, and the drums are strictly live. The groups' vocalists are obviously native French speakers and their English lyrics occasionally betray that fact by their reliance on cookie-cutter phrases that fill time without conveying much meaning; that they can do much better in French is demonstrated by two of the best tracks on the album, "Right On" and the brilliant "Le Monde à Nos Pieds." Also worth note is also a very fine rocksteady instrumental titled "Houdini," though their reggae version of the soul classic "Rescue Me" is curiously enervated. (Their take on the rocksteady evergreen "No No No" is similarly disappointing.) Overall, though, Way Back Home is an impressive debut.

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