Kona Town

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Kona Town Review

by Alex Henderson

From Blondie to the Police to the Clash, plenty of rockers have been influenced by reggae over the years -- and that isn't counting all the ska-punk bands that emerged in the '80s and '90s. Pepper certainly isn't the first band to blend alternative rock, punk, and reggae, but while the Hawaiian trio's second album, Kona Town, isn't groundbreaking, it is definitely above average -- not to mention quite likable. Although not innovative, Pepper isn't one of those faceless, cookie-cutter ska-punk combos that sets out to emulate the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, but isn't nearly as impressive. Pepper is smart enough to do its own thing, and that means having an attractive sound that could be described as the Police by way of Steel Pulse by way of punk-pop. Overall, the tunes on this Steve Kravac-produced disc are memorable; when accessible tunes like "B.O.O.T" and "The Good Thing" are playing, one cannot help but admire Pepper's sense of melody. This trio doesn't use angst for the sake of angst to grab your attention -- Pepper obviously sees the value of a memorable hook and a straightforward, easy-to-absorb melody. It is clear that Pepper's three members have spent a lot of time listening to '70s and early-'80s reggae; although Bret Bollinger (bass, vocals), Kaleo Wassman (guitar, vocals), and Yesod Williams (drums) belong to rock's post-Baby Boomer generation, this CD recalls a time when many punk and new wave artists were seriously checking out reggae greats like Dennis Brown, Burning Spear, and Peter Tosh. Kona Town isn't recommended to reggae purists, but those who hold alternative rock, punk, and reggae in equally high regard will find a lot to appreciate about this release.

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