Old Time Something Come Back Again, Vol. 2

The Expanders

Easy Star Records, 2017

http://www.TheExpanders.net

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 02/16/2018

I think we've come to a point where indie-reggae is a formidable and flourishing genre. Los Angeles revivalists The Expanders is at the front of the pack among those who are keeping the spirit of '70s and '80s reggae alive. Three part vocal harmonies and thoughtful, socially aware lyrics are an integral part of their DIY ethics.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The Expanders is an outfit where four of the five members share vocal duties. On this second installment of the Old Time Something Come Back Again series, the band reworks classics from The Ethiopians, Burning Spear, The Gladiators, and The Tidals, among others. The difference this time from the first installment is that these songs weren't already in the band's live sets and had to be learned from scratch.

One thing The Expanders is never short on is melody, as exemplified by album standout “Band Your Belly” (The Ethiopians), where lively organs and a memorable bass line give it a signature The Expanders twist while keeping the integrity of the original.

Of the covers, The Ethiopians’ “Life Is A Funny Thing” is also among the best, illustrating the outfit's ability to deliver calming melodies and laidback grooves with timelessness. Other selections like “Put Those Fools” (The Tidals) have a soulful, subtle Motown influence, while some, like “Strugglers' Time” (Ghetto Connection), are more traditional reggae with plenty of guitars and organs.

Deeper tracks like the dreamy “”Anti-Christ” (by Yabby You & The Prophets) and the moody organs of “Love Is All” (Carlton & The Shoes) slightly resembles American oldies, and the album exits on “I Have A Party” (Kenny Spence & His Stars), where the party soundtrack sounds like it should unfold on a tropical island and near a beach scene.

While there's no doubt that modern reggae is becoming more common, The Expanders is absolutely at the top of the genre, and this album further solidifies their boundless talent.

Rating: B+

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