New Town Kings: Borderline

British reggae band New Town Kings are back with an uncompromising new track entitled ‘Borderline’, focussing on migration and upon politically-motivated hostility towards difference and towards those who seek to escape persecution.

The New Town Kings have featured on these pages before (see reggaemusic.org.uk 14th December 2014). The eight-strong ska/reggae band seek to merge old-school Jamaican rhythms with a novel take on UK-inspired ska and they have already built up a strong live reputation. In April and May 2018 the New Town Kings will be touring in England where you can have the chance to hear their forthcoming album ‘Reach Out’ live in a relatively small-scale venue setting.

New Town Kings: ‘Borderline’, single release 9th March 2018

Ryon: Zephyr

Here’s the second album from five-piece French band Ryon, comprising thirteen tracks of reggae music in the mainstream roots tradition. The title track rocks along at a leisurely pace, while ‘Gaia’ kicks off in a dubby style before taking us into another moderately paced thoughtful track, melodic and instrumentally interesting. With live dates in France from April there is an early chance to hear this positive reggae music in a live setting.

Ryon: Zephyr, release on CD, digital and vinyl, 16th March 2018

Alam: Sounds of Freedom

From Bordeaux here comes the forthcoming third album from Alam, featuring Glaswegian Soom T (see reggaemusic.org.uk February 17th, 2013) along with personnel from French reggae band Danakil who also help out with the production. With the female vocals of Marie and Soom T set atop the tight reggae rhythms of the band it’s mainstream reggae at its best with hints of hip-hop from time to time amidst strong instrumentation.

Amongst the tracks included here, the single ‘Someday’ is a faster-paced politically informed song. Dealing with a range of contemporary world issues the album is nonetheless feel-good and optimistic, and the pace of the music makes seeing the band live an inviting prospect.

Alam: Sounds of Freedom; release 2nd March 2018

King Kong: Gwaan

The new album by King Kong entitled ‘Repatriation’ is due at the beginning of March and will feature top rated reggae musicians including Roots Radics, Sly & Robbie, Naram & Art, Russ D, Bongo Herman, Leroy Mafia, Dwight Pinkney. It also includes Burro Banton and none other than Eek a Mouse so should be well worth hearing. In the meantime we have the first single release from the album in the shape of ‘Gwaan’, an easy-going dancehall-influenced reggae track. Back to the 80s!

King Kong is scheduled to tour in mainland Europe from January to May, backed by Irie Ites with what is billed as “a brand new live concept” called Irie Ites Live Mix comprising a trombonist and the in-house producer who will play and dub the rhythm tracks. Different!

King Kong: Repatriation, release due 2nd March 2018 by Irie Ites Records in CD, vinyl and digital formats

Peter Lloyd: Woman

Long-established Jamaican singer and actor Peter Lloyd has released his cover of John Lennon’s ‘Woman’ in a soft melodic reggae-lite style. Described as the ‘Love Messenger’, Peter Lloyd believes that love is the ‘greatest revolution’ that creates unity. His personal Rastafarian philosophy has influenced his music and he states that the purpose of his music is to ‘heal the world’. He also tries to give back to society as much as he can through a programme of philanthropy, delivering his message through a programme called Yutes Rise, where he seeks to inspire participants through a reggae/motivational workshop and live performances. On this single, Peter Lloyd teams up with legendary Jamaican producer and saxophonist Dean Fraser who has worked with the likes of Dennis Brown, Sly and Robbie, and Joe Gibbs. Widely known on the international reggae festival circuit, he has come up with a track that is leagues away from angry powerful drum-and-bass or dancehall sounds. Not the first time this song has been treated to a reggae makeover, this track stands as a thoughtful and gentle reggae version of Lennon’s sweet song which somehow seems right in the run-up to Christmas as we remember John Lennon’s murder in December 1980.

MLK and the Breadwinners: The World is in Trouble

Here is the new album from vocalist MLK, an eleven-track analogue reggae album firmly in the roots reggae tradition. MLK takes us through a selection of original tracks and some revisiting of lesser known tracks from Lee Perry’s Upsetters house band, with new vocals and with renewed inspiration. Originally from Sierra Leone and currently based in Amsterdam, songwriter and artist MLK provides some serious reggae music informed by mainstream roots history and delivered with commitment. Authenticity is the word.
Released on vinyl and on digital download, the latter includes four dub versions not included on the vinyl album. Great music.

MLK and the Breadwinners: the World is in Trouble, release on vinyl and DDL, October 2017.

Dreadsquad: Riddim Machine volumes 2 & 3

From Polish producer Dreadsquad (Marek Bogdanski) here are some serious reggae/dancehall rhythms in the form of a fine digital release alongside a two-volume vinyl alternative. Confusingly it’s a riddim collection with vocals – from a variety of guest artists. Volume 2 is at different points melodic vintage reggae, dancehall, electronic, and good old-fashioned dub. Volume 3 begins energetically and continues in similar style throughout. Worth catching.

Dreadsquad: Riddim Machine volumes 2 & 3, release on Superfly/Moonshine Recordings, digital/vinyl, 17th November 2017

The Leaderz Riddim

From new independent label Konquerin Soundz Recordings comes this six-track collection based on one rhythm track, with an upbeat but sometimes angry take on life. The Leaderz Riddim takes its title from Bristol based-Da Fuchaman’s “So called Leaders” (included here) and is a dismissive but worthwhile view of those who style themselves as our leaders. Other tracks range from Gappy Ranks’ “Conquering Lion” to Tenna Star’s “Stand for Life”, YT’s “Optimistic”, Mowty Mahlyka’s “In the City” and Blackout JA’s uncompromising “No Justice”. Konquerin Soundz are a Reggae/Dancehall vinyl soundsystem based in Cornwall, and have been generating full-onsounds around South West England for twelve years. This compelling dancehall-based sound is a great way for the label to make its mark on contemporary reggae.

The Leaderz Riddim released digitally on Konquerin Sounds label, 2nd December 2017

Reggie ‘n’ Bollie featuring Beenie Man: On the Floor

Well dancehall isn’t dead if this new release from Ghanaian duo Reggie ‘n’ Bolllie is anything to go by. Featuring the inimitable sound of Beenie Man who makes the track stand out with his distinctive style, ‘On the Floor’ is the lead single from their album ‘Uncommon Favours’ which is due out soon. Reggie ‘n’ Bollie comment:

“This collaboration with Beenie Man is a dream come true for us. He’s been a source of inspiration in our music style and we are so privileged to have had the Legend and Dancehall King Beenie on this track. The track showcases our Ragga dancehall style which embodies the unique sound of our music”.

Reggie ‘n’ Bollie have had a good year thus far, having been appointed as “Ghana Tourism Ambassadors for UK & Europe” and also winning the “Best UK Music Artist Award” at the 2017 IARA Awards (International Achievements Recognition Awards). This full-on dancehall sound should help to establish their authentic reggae credibility after their TV talent show past and their troubled history with a mainstream label – and the contribution of Beenie Man seals the deal.

Reggie ‘n’ Bollie: On the Floor, release 27th October 2017

Hollie Cook: Freefalling/Survive

From Hollie Cook (see reggaemusic.org.uk 29 April 2012 and 9 July 2014) comes a fine new single on Merge Records. ‘Freefalling’ is a slow and sweet reggae ballad, while ‘Survive’ is a melodic reggae song in a retro mood, both tracks featuring guitar that could have been beamed in from another time and both with restrained and heartfelt vocals. The tracks are taken from Hollie Cook’s forthcoming third album, ‘Vessel of Love’, due in January 2018, and follow the release of lead single from that album ‘Angel Fire’.

The new single is a contemporary take on lovers’ rock produced by renowned producer Martin ‘Youth’ Glover. It moves Hollie Cook on from the dub-heavy sound of her previous two albums to a more mature and measured take on reggae, brimming with love and warmth.

Hollie Cook: Freefalling/Survive single on Merge Records, October 2017