Rebelution: Free Rein
SoCal reggae-rock outfit Rebelution have been a leading voice in their scene for the better part of a decade now, even garnering a nod from the music establishment in 2017 when their album Falling Into Place was nominated for the Best Reggae Album Grammy. But growing success or not, the quartet seems utterly unconcerned with expectations; this is a band who locked into a sound long ago, and aim to explore every corner of it. While the band is touting their sixth LP Free Rein as an experimental leap, the truth is a bit subtler, and the album is really a new take on Rebelution’s tried and true style—unabashed positivity, colorful reggae rhythms, punchy horns and rock guitar—updated with bits of fluid jazz licks, hushed acoustic guitars and some down and dirty dub. And, as always, it’s packed with Eric Rachmany’s infectious hooks and laidback grooves that are tailor-made for parking lot tailgates and pool parties alike. Post-studio help from Jamaican producers Winta James and Don Corleon adds some extra shine. All that said, where Rebelution has truly excelled is in Rachmany’s pop-savvy songwriting. These 12 tracks are among the tightest and catchiest the group has ever produced. Even when the band spreads out a bit, like on the splashy, cascading riffing of “Trap Door” or the beach-sunset folk and twinkling guitar solos of “Healing,” they don’t waste a second jamming on anything less than airtight. And while it’d be refreshing to see Rebelution go on a real musical expedition—that gorgeous trumpet on the former could’ve been a wonderful rabbit hole to explore—their sound is still sunshine.