The bouncing beat behind reggae dub rock is one recognizable sound that permeates a vast majority of songs in the genre. It's what a band builds on top of that keystone beat that separates it from the hordes of bands employing the same basic formula. In the case of Santa Barbara pop reggae band Rebelution, it meant turning to opera for the song "Lady in White" from their latest album Peace of Mind.
According to the band's drummer, Wesley Finley, it's a song you're likely to hear when the band plays Midtown Ballroom in Bend on Friday, March 22.
" 'Lady in White' is one of our heaviest songs to date," Finley said in an interview with the Source. "We really stretched the idea out and made it [sound] dramatic to match the lyrics. There are a lot of layers in the recording that make it powerful and the fans have really taken to it. It's definitely one of our favorites to play live because the song is just so intense."
Of course the rest of Peace of Mind has plenty of fun-loving, pop- heavy reggae songs to love as well. In fact it doesn't get more beach party sounding than the album's third track, "Good Vibes." But still, it's that "Lady in White" song that stands out on the record.
The track is drenched in dark rock opera—something Andrew Lloyd Weber and Pete Townshend might have put together if they were writing in dub rock. And while that classic dub beat still finds its way into the song during the verses, the chorus leads into wailing '70s guitar turning "Lady in White" into a gut-wrenching soliloquy about cocaine addiction. It pits the singer against the drug in a game of mental chess with back-and-forth lyrics like:
"I may not be a saint but I'm sexy. I'll put you in a daze cuz I'm pretty" and "...I should see the sign, but you never let me. Line after line, sometimes too many. So who am I to blame? I point the finger at a lady I can't tame."
Even absent the flurry of a live performance to back up the gravity of the song, it's a powerful recording. And though it stands alone on the album, imagining how the rest of the opera might go is not a stretch.
From there Peace of Mind ironically flirts with the fine line between hard drug addiction and recreational use by immediately transitioning into "So High"—a song about loving weed. Cleary they get the difference between the two.
While the rest of the record is not as ambitious as "Lady in White" when it comes to infusing the music with other genre's, Rebelution still does better at that task than many. They turn to R&B for "Closer I Get" and singer-songwriter acoustics for "Route Around"—a song that pleasantly surprises with the inclusion of harmonica.
Just make sure, if you're at their show, that you stop talking long enough for that performance of "Lady in White." It's sure to drop a big dose of emotional drama into the middle of an otherwise carefree dance-filled concert.
Rebelution with J BOOG
9 p.m. Friday, March 22
51 NW Greenwood Ave.
Tickets at www.bendticket.com and Ranch Records
More from drummer Wesley Finley:
On Rebelution's album Peace of Mind being released in three versions—regular, acoustic and dub instrumental:
"We wanted to offer something different for the fans so that whatever mood they're in we can be there for them."
On many radio stations' constant airplay of Sublime:
"It's hard, if not impossible, to be in this genre of contemporary reggae and not appreciate Sublime. We all grew up on it, and it surely inspired us in our early days as musicians. Nonetheless, nothing new can come from something that has expired so you've just got to appreciate it for what it was and move on."
On the craziest thing that's ever happened to Rebelution as a band:
"It's entirely PG rated. At the end of our last summer tour we played a festival in rural Pennsylvania and the moment we played our last note we had to hop on a plane to fly to San Francisco for Outside Lands, which was one of our most important shows to date. There were increasing flight delays and we got stuck in Philly and arrived right before this huge performance in front of thousands of people with little to no sleep."