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Sun-Dried Vibes - 'Stay Hopeful' Album Review


1. Hopeful

2. Smoke Session (feat. Rebelution & TreeHouse!)

3. Late Night (feat. Oogee Wawa)

4. Your Eyes

5. I&I

6. Search And Seizure (feat. Fear Nuttin Band)

7. It's Always Been You

8. Obstacles (feat. Roots of a Rebellion)

9. Willie Weedman (feat. Bumpin' Uglies)

10. Servants Heart

11. Young One (feat. Fear Nuttin Band & TreeHouse!) [Remix]

12. Carolina Breeze (feat. Tropidelic)

13. I&I Dub (feat. See Water)

14. Notice Me

15. Planting Seeds (feat. Of Good Nature)

16. Battle Cry

South Carolina’s Sun-Dried Vibes have just released what I believe is their third full length album ‘Stay Hopeful’ on the fantastically named Space Duck Records. The band have been around a while having issued their first self-titled platter back in 2011. It is Ska Punk but not as you know it. Especially if you have spent a lot of time listening to No Doubt, Less Than Jake, Reel Big Fish or anyone of that ilk.

Sun-Dried Vibes definitely have Punk and some unquestionably confident Ska sounds. But on top of that their Pop sensibility is astonishingly strong and it is all underpinned by almost dub plate quality bass sounds. The bass has the depth that Paul Simenon of the Clash or King Tubby would have been proud of. The overall feel of this record is a really upbeat and happy vibe, maybe which is why it is called ‘Stay Hopeful’. The album was produced by Jeff Leonard and Eric Rickert at Ocean Industries Studios (Charleston, SC) and Echo Mountain Recording Studio (Asheville, NC) and was mastered by Chris Gehringer of Sterling Sound (New York, NY).

The album has plenty of collaboration with some US acts that I reckon you definitely need to check out; Oogee Wawa, Fear Nuttin’ Band, Rebelution, Bumpin’ Uglies, Of Good Nature, Roots Of A Rebellion, TreeHouse! See Water and Tropidelic. All of these acts are rooted in Reggae, Punk, Hip Hop and to a degree Protest. The song that really encapsulates the rebel element of Sun Dried Vibes on ‘Stay Hopeful’ is “Search And Seizure” on which they work with the Fear Nuttin’ Band. Great lyrics, sharp message, angry brass and heavy, heavy bass. Sun Dried Vibes really get their Pop Skank on with beautiful love lament “It’s Always Been You”. Surely the resplendent chilled sound that is “Willie Weedman” is not about dope, right? Of course it is and it would fit very comfortably alongside Bob Marley’s love song to the ‘erb “Kaya”. I have never had such a strong yearning for a massive doobie as I have after listening to that song.

“Young One” features an excellent bit of toasting over a very punky riff, but it maintains a core Reggae lilt. Do I have a favourite song from this collection? Actually no, every track here is bloody dazzling. Sum 41 might have named an album ‘All Killer No Filler’ back in 2001 but Sun Dried Vibes have made an album that really meets that promise. Every one of these sixteen songs deserves to be here. The band is at its heart a trio and what a powerhouse those three blokes are.

Zach Fowler on soulful vocals and masterful guitar, Jono Cheverez playing drums that would grace some of the finest Reggae bands there have ever been, this guy knows how to use his high hat and rim shot, then last but definitely not least there is Evan Tyler whose dubby and deep bass playing could raise the dead better than a defibrillator cranked to 11. The latter is perfectly displayed on “I & I Dub”, listen to it with headphones on and it will make your brain jump to the beat and clear your sinuses at the same time.

After listening to this album just once I was happy to call myself a Sun-Dried Vibes fan, after the third listen I am a disciple! Check this band out now, it is written, well ok I just wrote it, but if you pass this supremely talented band by then you will be leaving and unfilled hole in your musical experience.

Review - Bill Adamson

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