Bedouin Soundclash

Sounding Amosaic

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To call Bedouin Soundclash a reggae band would be a gross over-simplification. Their spare guitar-bass-drums lineup gives their music a dry texture that recalls the early Cure, while singer Jay Malinowski's raspy wail sounds, at times, like a cross between Bob Marley and Paul Simon. The band's name is probably intended as a tribute to reggae experimentalist Badawi, who released an album of the same name in 1996, but Bedouin Soundclash's music is actually quite straightforward: highlight tracks like the acoustic-based "When the Night Feels My Song" and the one-drop meta-reggae anthem "Music My Rock" deliver meat-and-potatoes reggae grooves with a minimum of fuss and a maximum of hooks; when they title a song "Living in Jungles" you can count on a jittery jungle beat from drummer Pat Pengelly; when they title a song "Immigrant Workforce" you can count on an expression of healthy economic skepticism. And when they cover the Maytones' rocksteady classic "Money Worries," they bring in Vernon Maytone (aka Vern Buckley) himself to sing lead in front of their dry, tensile groove. Sounding a Mosaic was produced by Bad Brains bassist Darryl Jenifer, who gives them plenty of space and muscle but knows enough to leave a good sound alone. Very highly recommended.

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