Kings And Queens In Dub

John Brown's Body

Easy Star Records, 2015

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


Though their sound is certainly rooted in reggae, Boston and Ithaca's John Brown's Body would seem more at home on a bill with Massive Attack and The Flaming Lips. Self-described as 'Future Roots Music,' the outfit takes traditional reggae rhythms and puts them through a filter of electronica, hip-hop, ska, and dub step, complete with a trio of horns to help produce their signature style.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

In 2013, John Brown's Body released King And Queens, which quickly jumped up the charts and established the band as an unrelenting force in American reggae. While they've flirted with dub before on the 2012 EP JBB In Dub, this time they've gone the distance with a dub interpretation of their 2013 album mixed by stars of the genre like Dubmatix, Dubfader (10 Ft. Ganja Plant), Ticklah, Yesking, Goldwasser, Dennis Bovell, and Lord Echo.

Generally, when I think of the genre dub, I imagine an almost offensive amount of bass and overly loud music. But when the lead-off track “People In The Light Dub” opened with plenty of reverb, a modest amount of bass lines, and slow burning grooves, I was relieved to discover John Brown's Body had more to offer. Most notably, there is an assault of horns that is evident all over the album, and the outfit also shows their percussion expertise on “Give Up The Ghost” and a fiercer angle on “Fracture Dub.”

If you're not in the loop of modern day dub albums, this will be a great introduction. While each track was mixed by different artists, it flows together well with diversity. This disc is heavily layered and incredibly produced; meanwhile, new frontman Elliot Martin's vocal hooks, the endless effects, and the emphasis on bass provide most of the obvious high points, but anyone who takes a deep listen to Kings And Queens In Dub will hear a lot of varied talent.

Rating: B+

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