John Brown's Body

Spirits All Around Us

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    8
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A pleasant chill record of roots reggae, John Brown's Body's Spirits All Around Us presents 14 densely layered tracks from the Ithaca, NY-based ensemble. Frontman Kevin Kinsella has a knack for crafting poppy vocal hooks that he skillfully embeds within the dubby grooves (such as on "33 RPM"). The real genius of the album, though, is in the syncopated wall of sound the band creates. Synths, percussion, horns, vocals, and guitars layer together to create a rich blend. One minor complaint is that, perhaps, there is not enough low end on the disc. The band shows its experimental side on cuts like the instrumental "Instrument" (perhaps the highlight of the disc) and the almost industrial-sounding "Ambrosia." On the former, the band's thick dub percolates over a hearty seven minutes, making one wish that the band would someday devote an entire disc to this sort of exploration.

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