(Axe Records 2008)
This is the second release by the West Coast’s premier reggae label, Axe Records. By releasing a handful of 45's and 2 full length albums since their inception- a good motto might by quality over quantity. On their debut album the Impalers prove not everything great in the North American reggae scene has to be "dirty." Their clean sounding take on Jamaican music may fill a hole in your music collection. A comparison to the Aggrolites is obvoius as the Aggrolites released their debut album 5 years ago in 2003. And the Impalers are not only on the same label but this album is also engineered by the man behind the Aggrolites live and studio sound, Brian “Boom Boom” Dixon. From the get go of “Mission Strut” you here other influences such as the powerful Stax-like horn lines. Cindy Chi has one of the sweetest and strongest sounding vocals by channeling a few Jamaican singers (Phylis Dillon and Hortenese Ellis) but you can also hear the sultry soulful influence of Carla Thomas.
“On the End of a Rope” is not a plea for love but an ultimatum with a steady backing chorus of denial (No, No, No). “Uppercut” opens with bubbling organ melody and a heavy one drop. The song is a grooving organ instrumental that keeps you rocking from start to finish. After just a few listens “Holding On To You” is my favorite tune by far the lyrics are instantaneously memorable and tough a true rocksteady gem. The other instrumentals on the disc are all killer (“Metro Azul”, “Nachmittag”, and “The K Line.) The band delves into other sounds throughout the rest of the disc and these departures still keep the band in the realm of reggae the jazz styled horn blasts and funky guitars on songs like “Pocket Money” and “I Vampiri.” “Replacement Boy” uses some dub effects to enhance the minimal grooving rhythm, while the lounge piano coupled with Cindy’s sweet vocals sound perfect. And “Judge and Jury” opens up with some nice percussion and a perfect reggae groove that floats throughout the song about a song full of murder and justice.
The Impalers do what they intend to do -- to conquer with their musical prowess. And I am one of the prisoners of their musical mysticism. I think I would follow wherever they would take me with their song. Axe records strikes gold for the second time in a row. And I cannot wait for whatever the future holds for San Fransico’s own Impalers or for Axe Records. One can only hope a national tour will follow. I am sure this band will not be very difficult to make any room dancing and grooving along. California seems to have a racket on amazing female fronted ska/reggae bands. The band should have a bright future as some of the members have been in quite a few popular/long-lasting bands like Lets Go Bowling, Skanking Pickle, and the Rudiments. Buy this album no doubt no question just do it!
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