Displaying a level of talent, taste, and patience beyond their years, the young lads of Dubbest took their time in the creation of their sophomore album, with the result being Avoid The Pier, total dub porn for the masses. The liner notes spec 13 tracks, but this is simply one big, fat hour of groove – a fine example of how some of the best new roots reggae being created these days is right here in the States (and much of it in the Northeast). If Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad, 10 Ft. Ganja Plant, and John Brown’s Body flip your switch, then you will enjoy Dubbest’s Avoid The Pier, my friend.
The five-man band (Kyle Hancock on drums; bassist Sean Craffey; guitarist Andrew Mackenzie; Cory Mahoney on guitar and keys; Ryan Thaxter on vox/keys/melodica) crafted Avoid The Pier themselves; apart from some tasty bits of trombone from guest Kevin Sennott on the aptly-named opener “The Take Off” and the snaky drift of “Serpent”, this is Dubbest at the controls, folks. (Bassist Craffey is credited with the album’s recording and engineering, while the actual mixing and dubbing is listed as a band effort.)
Tunes range from brief visitations to scenes and vibes (the melodica vapors of “Nightcrawler”; the shapeshift modulations of “Dub 42”) to fully-formed touchdowns on various grooves. “Sit Tight” is a confessional of love with lyrics painting pictures as vivid as the music. Thaxter’s unsettled vocals on “Tall And Grown” are complemented with appropriate drama by the dub-shaped landscape beneath his feet. The two parts of “Liars Tree” take their time to think things through with the distinctive percussive mutterings of a clavinet in the background. “Warm Wind” offers up hope and sunshine; “Saturate” is flavored with a bit of funk; “Desert Storm” throws a few flecks of curry powder into the mix with a mid-tune rhythm change-up to keep things properly stirred.
Dubbest saves the big psychedelic cannonball for the album’s closer: the swirling jam of “Avoid The Pier At Night/Hot Thursday” is pure dub magic. Easing into port through a thick midnight fog, the title track’s eerie ambience is pierced by Craffey’s unflinching bass, allowing whiffs of “Hot Thursday”’s guitar, keys, and melodica to pass through on the shoulders of Hancock’s drums. (In the end, the bass retreats and the fog recaptures the scene – a total turn-your-collar up finale to things.)
Avoid The Pier will grab your ear right off the bat; repeated listenings will offer previously-missed surprises. This is music with depth and staying power, speaking well for the future of Dubbest.
Brian Robbins eases into port at www.brian-robbins.com