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Pepper
No Shame
Lava / Atlantic Records
www.pepperlive.com


Pepper, the trio originally from Kailua Kona, Hawaii, are best known for their reggae-rock mixtures, but with their fourth studio record No Shame, produced by Nick Hexum of 311, Tony Kanal of No Doubt, and Paul Leary of Butthole Surfers, the trio have added to their ska cocktails with treatments of blues, soul, surf punk, SoCal rock, and acoustic pop elements. With 17 songs to choose from and one track of complete dialogue, it is hard not to find something to like, ranging the scores from slow soothing ballads like "Wanted" to the 311-inscribed rock flaps of "Good Enough" and the Butthole Surfers' ska-springs in ""Point And Shoot."

Band members Bret Bollinger (bass, vocals), Kaleo Wassman (guitar, vocals), and Yesod Williams (drums) bring easy to absorb melodies to the forefront using Island beats injected with ska pulses along a pop/rock fluidity and a reggae vocal percussion reflective of Bob Marley. "Bring Me Along" bridges blues and ska sheaths into a comfy berth. The reggae percussion for "No Control" has a Red Hot Chili Pepper kinetic, whereas the porous jazz cells on "Green Hell" display a Ben Harper lithe. The female choruses on "Old Time Problem" caress the surf punk tones soaked in effects offering a diversity in Pepper's repertoire. Their songs display various musical influences which Pepper adeptly finesse into their rock reggae masques.

Pepper also likes to insert dialogue into their songs like on the tracks "UFA Point Skit" and "Beers Skit" adding humor to their reggae flushes. The flaming guitar solo in "Zicky's Song" is stellar and the springy tempos on "Your Face" and "Crazy Love" keep their tunes happy with a ska verve and easy to drift along motions. The soul pulses in Kaleo's vocal percussion on "Outta My Face" jump out of the melodic hems and float above the music. "Lost In America" is a charming ditty with SoCal rock lacing and acoustic pop lifts, while "Rent" foams with ska rock rudiments, an Island sway, and a reggae vocal physique.

Pepper's latest release has familiar sounds locked in with The Red Hot Chili Peppers and a softer 311, and yet the band's percussive movements are distinctive to them. The band is on an extensive nationwide club tour bringing a softer side to surf punk and finding links in blues and reggae rock that are complementary in a marriage.

-Susan Frances

Track Listing:
1. Bring Me Along
2. Rent
3. No Control
4. Green Hell
5. Lost In America
6. UFA Point Skit
7. Your Face
8. Nice Time
9. Crazy Love
10. Like Your Style
11. Point And Shoot
12. Old Time Problem
13. Beers Skit
14. Outta My Face
15. Wanted
16. Good Enough
17. Zicky's Song
18. Intro Skit


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Lee Koch



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