The Green

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Hawaii has long been home to one of the strongest and most vibrant reggae scenes in the United States, and in 2011 the biggest buzz from that scene was being generated by the Green, whose sophomore effort was released on the well-regarded Easy Star label. It finds the group continuing to hone its hybrid pop-roots sound, delivering a set of glossily produced songs that explore lovers rock, sufferers, and religious themes with equal fervor (well, maybe a bit more heavily on the lovers side). At its best, the combination of new and old reggae elements works beautifully: "Decisions" is a brilliant fusion of romantic R&B longing, a steady rockers groove, and a subtly sophisticated pop chord progression. Other tracks explore more rockish territory ("Gotta Be" tends that way, for example) and still others move into more serious R&B mode (note the egregious Auto-Tune use on "Come In"). But throughout the album the rhythmic foundations remain deeply grounded in the roots reggae verities, and there are pervasive touches of dubwise echo and delay. Singer Caleb Keolanui's voice is a joy to hear -- clear, crisp, and light, but really, the whole band is a pleasure to hear. There are moments when things start feeling just a bit too smooth and burnished, but they're rare and easily forgivable.

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