House of Shem: Island Vibration (Isaac)

 |   |  1 min read

House of Shem: Move Along Together
House of Shem: Island Vibration (Isaac)

If it's true, as I am told, this album went to number one on the New Zealand charts it confirms two things: in this part of the Pacific we love them familiar summertime reggae grooves; and also that we have an indiscriminate love of them familar summertime reggae grooves to the point of ignoring the obvious.

The obvious here is that House of Shem deliver little more -- I'd actually say absolutely no more, and possibly less -- than reggae cliches on a musical and lyrical level ("gotta move along together, hold on tight to each other . . . unite").

This dreary, obvious and emotional black hole of an album is no more than cruisy barbecue music, albeit very well played.

So yes, you can take nothing away from the musicianship on display here, but toss over the top lyrics which sound like a Powerpoint presentation of reggae/Rasta imagery coupled with lovers rock (Babylon/brighter day/unity/Jah love/all I need is you) and you have an album which sounds as if it was conceived as being coated in emotional Teflon.

The vaguely interesting parts arrive when this forgettable hour-or-so sometimes connects with the Pasifika/Maori suggestions of its title (although even Ruia's contribution sounds a wasted opportunity on Tahuri Mai Ra over the generic grooves which are endemic here).

As with the last Katchafire album -- also up a blind alley but enormously popular -- the reggae tropes are here in pleasingly populist abundance . . . but actually there's very little going on.

Except perhaps if you are having a barbecue and you'd like to talk to your guests.

Believe me, this won't distract your attention.

Number one, huh?

Jeez ............

Want to hear better than this? Then try here.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Reggae articles index

Newtown Rocksteady: Goin' Steady (Loop)

Newtown Rocksteady: Goin' Steady (Loop)

Much as it would be a relief to be hugely impressed by this expanded EP -- half a dozen tracks,  four dub versions - it appears this large band have invented a variant on the rightly derided... > Read more

TIGI NESS INTERVIEWED (2003): From street warrior to natural mystic

TIGI NESS INTERVIEWED (2003): From street warrior to natural mystic

The high-rise skyline shimmers in the summer heat beyond the faded iron roofs of Auckland's inner-city suburbs. Tigi Ness sits on the back porch of his Grey Lynn home, in the foreground a tended... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

THE BARGAIN BUY: The J. Geils Band; Original Album Series (Rhino)

THE BARGAIN BUY: The J. Geils Band; Original Album Series (Rhino)

Way before their mainstream commercial success with songs like Centrefold, the J Geils Band were a highly successful blues-rock outfit with the harmonica of Magic Dick front'n'centre. In the... > Read more

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Shayna King

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Shayna King

A few weeks ago Elsewhere scooped up the impressive debut album The Day is Young by the Christchurch-based singer-songwriter Shayna King as part of a package of releases. They had all been part of... > Read more