ALBUM REVIEWS RECOMMENDED REVIEWS

SMOOTH LEE – “Holdup” (2019)

Written by Nenad Pekez

SMOOTH LEE
“Holdup”
Ska-Punk/Reggae/Rock
LP/CD/DL
 2019

… more than well-balanced sound is achieved on this LP, before all due to simple, but effective and purposeful arrangements.

Mixing ska and punk has always been tricky considering how easy it is to slip into frantic and cluttered sound. The likes of the The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Reel Big Fish successfully channeled all the energy this style brings into music that had greatest success during 1990’s. Several decades after, Belgian ska-punks SMOOTH LEE add even more genres to the mix being aware of all “traps” this approach might bring. It might come as a surprise  considering all the genres included – from reggae, ska and funk to punk and rock – but more than well-balanced sound is achieved on this LP, before all due to simple, but effective and purposeful arrangements. There is no even one single beat on this LP that doesn’t actually belongs there or surprisingly falls out of “the right” place. Even distortions usually heavily used by ska-punks are in this case used only in the purpose of the balanced overall sound.

“Holdup” swims through several different moods from song to song keeping enjoyable sound and delivery of the messages in old school and honest way as a must. Speaking of honesty, the title track is the one that needs all your attention. All the artist’s anger aimed at corporative and capitalistic environment maintained and supported by banking system is brought out loud and clear via sharp off-beat rhythm guitar, straight-forward head-banging drums and heavy warning horns blows. This raw sound leads to the climax shout out: The money better be there!!!. This kind of mood is not actually dominating the album as more dancing and funky moments are a lot to be heard throughout.

The element of this album that led me personally to this band is actually a production. For any roots reggae fan out there eager to find out more underground reggae stuff, the name of Kingston Echo (Steve Michielsen) should be known. This album as well was recorded, produced and mixed in a old way – using 16-track analog tape – and is simply impossible to deny the influence that this technique has on the sharpness and lucidness of the sound (the bass and drums at the first place). On the genres list add the influence of roots reggae which is also felt in this specific way.

This LP is short! Way too short for everything it bring on the table. However, it is long enough for any reggae, ska, rock or punk listener that searches for quality. Collectors as well might be interested in the LP as the design and cover are done in a equally quality manner.

Tracklist:

01. It’s All Wrong
02. Killer Queen
03. Say A Prayer
04. Speed of Light
05. Holdup
06. Masqueraders
07. Rude Boys
08. Shangri-La
09. Words & Roses
10. Save The Truth

4

… more than well-balanced sound is achieved on this LP, before all due to simple, but effective and purposeful arrangements.

Share via