Bumpin’ Uglies – Mid-Atlantic Dub
This Maryland-based band focuses on East Coast punky reggae that’s engaging & creative. Having developed a strong work ethic & persistence they utilize their main musical thrust of reggae & decorate their tunes with folk & classic country with a pinch of hip-hop.
What makes it superb is the lack of hard-edged vocals, activism, radicalism & controversy (except for the 4-letter words which they should cut back on, they’re not necessary). They showcase with enthusiasm & with pop-vocals that have gusto, that should suffice. “Make It Through the Day,” is a fine lead-off with all the elements of commercial potency as they squeeze generous amounts of reggae class from their performance.
There are moments when they delve into a heavier subject cauldron. A more serious vibe of heady lyrics with imitation incendiary instincts. I say this only because it’s a far cry from Maryland to Kingston & they didn’t grow up in a trench town. That doesn’t mean they can’t access the feel, the determined temper of the musicality that is this cool genre of music. Because they do. “Wild Girls,” has colorful language but the groove is laid down genuinely. If Eminem can rap, then the Bumpin’ Uglies can reggae away.
Their efforts shine on their 7th CD, the 13-cut Mid-Atlantic Dub (Drops Sept 8-Independent) where many tunes are constructed with fine rhymes on the more rap-oriented reggae endeavors. Their voices though Caucasian have the intonation & phrasing necessary of reggae’s frayed edges. They don’t lose any of the desperation, maturity & survival of the spirit that reggae often reaches for.
“No Love With Little Stranger,” has a pinch of UK’s Dexys Midnight Runners & the angst of Kevin Rowland vocals. The Bumpin’ Uglies know how to pace themselves, from outrageous runs to slow burners without losing the formality of imagination. “Hold It In With Wax,” is a plodding tune with colorful language but it’s cross-pollinated with some interesting instrumentation. Nice cool trumpet notes followed by a blast from a sax with tasty lead guitar & all the musicians seem to play as tight as a knot in a piece of string.
They possess a generous amount of Madness’ melodic groove (“Victoria Gardens” “One Step Beyond”). Real potency comes with “Screens With Trevor Young,” — a locomotive of a tune. Quite impressive. They have novelties I can do without like “Stupid Names.” I guess going the route of the Holy Modal Rounders (“Boobs a-Lot”) isn’t such a bad thing, but “Trouble” & “Letting Go,” resurrect them.
Highlights – “Make It Through the Day,” “Wild Girls,” “No Love With Little Stranger,” “Everything Changing With the Elovators,” “Screens With Trevor Young,” “Trouble” & “Letting Go.”
Musicians – Brandon Hardesty – (vocals/guitar), Dave Wolf (bass/vocals), TJ Haslett (drums), Ethan Lichtenberger (keys/horns) & Will Lopez (sax/guitar).
Color image courtesy of the band’s Bandcamp site. CD @ Bandcamp (song samples available) & https://www.bumpinugliesmusic.com/
Enjoy our previous coverage here: Video Premiere: Bumpin Uglies Cover Me Up