By Cole Faulkner
It wouldn’t be summer without an annual ska or reggae infused offering from the good folks at Stomp Records. This year it’s the latest from Danny Rebel and the KGB – a proud member of the Montreal ska and reggae community. A band known for their obvious roots-heavy influence, the band’s brand of soulful reggae washes over listeners like a shady breeze on a sweltering summer afternoon. The five-piece’s latest full length, Lovehaus, will sound recognizable to anyone that is familiar with Alex Guiguere style projects like The Beatdown or One Night Band (which isn’t surprising considering that Danny Rebel & The KGB frequently play festivals and gigs with them).
The band employs a breadth of instruments native to the various related genres running through Lovehaus. As might be expected, the band takes full advantage of a steady humming organ – each note landing in complement to the steady stream of upstrokes blasts. Accordingly, opener “I Got A Feeling” is fairly typical of the genre for all the right reasons. The instrumentation is driven from styles not unlike those apparent in early career The Aggrolites, with the execution every bit as organic as the sound demands. Similar takes like “Ain’t No Fool” and “Pirates” each put their own unique, hazy spin on the well established formula. “200 Proof” follows with a smooth, soulful take that feels ready to transform a sleepy bar into an intimate 70’s club, while the quivering vocal style and steady upstroke of “I Apologize” and “Wellington St.” make the tracks feel decidedly like memorable slow burners from late 00’s State Radio.
Based on the message underpinning “Take Me Away,” the band seems to revere the era which gave birth to their idols. “Out with the new, in with the old, can imitate but never duplicate that foundational style,” sings the band as they make a clear call for a return to a more authentic time in which the airwaves were ripe with Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, and Desmond Dekker. Fans of The Toasters, The Aggrolites, The Slackers, and The Specials stand to make a strong connection with Lovehaus’ underlying vintage feel. Simply put, Danny Rebel & The KGB put forth an old school sound in shiny new packaging. But it’s less about what the band emulate, and more that they model a firm commitment and genuine respect for the spirit of the age-old sound they keep alive. Hats off to Danny Rebel & The KGB for a fine summer soundtrack.