Sunday, March 16, 2008

Point-Counterpoint: Ettin: “Rise Yourself”

2008 Do The Dog Music

Andrew: When I was asked to be a contributor to Music Is Our Occupation, I asked Gabe, “What if we’re sent a CD, and we don’t like it?” To which Gabe replied, “Be honest, but be fair and professional.” Fortunately, I’ve been quite pleased with the cd’s I’ve been sent and so I’ve never really had to face that situation.

Until now.

When Do The Dog Records sent me a copy of “Rise Yourself” by Ettin, a new band on their roster, I was anxious to hear it, having been generally pleased with their other recent releases. But disappointment settled in fairly quickly. See, coming from a writing background, I know that it’s important for a story, or movie, or in this case, a cd, to have what’s called a Hook. A Hook is a song that grabs the listener’s attention immediately. And, to me, “Rise Yourself” doesn’t have a Hook. And without that Hook, my interest started to wane.

The cd does improve with the second and third tracks, “To Waste” and “Coma”, but after those tracks, I found my interest slipping away again.

Only those two and the final track, “Get Up” really caught my attention.

And I think a lot of it has to do with personal preference. Lead singer, Ruby Taylor’s voice and subsequent approach to ska seems very relaxed and mellow compared to the brash, harmonious stylings of The Pepper Pots or Police & Thieves, and even the punkish, in-your-face tact of The Selecter.

I feel that “Rise Yourself” as an album might be more at home at a coffeehouse, than a larger venue. If you like your ska chilled and mellow, then by all means, check out “Rise Yourself” by Ettin. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t my cuppa tea.

Gabe: Well Andrew is still in "I'm so authentic land", there are still those with an open mind to new music. Who cares what the books say you gotta have to make a proper album. Whatever happened to make the music you like? That's exactly what I hear in Rise Yourself. It's a culmination of sounds from various styles of ska and reggae developed over the years, very modern. The stand out feature is obvious when you hear Ruby Taylor's voice, just a beautiful, soulful tone.
It's hard to believe this is Ettin's debut release as the musicianship is highly polished and fit for radio play. In fact it's just what you may have heard on the radio during the ska boom of the nineties. The song Try To Pretend reminds me very much of Save Ferris with the sharp horns and that uplifting, upbeat skank. But the nostalgia ends there as their sound shifts to a more chilled out reggae sound in Feed Me. Like the rest of the tunes on this album this is one feel good song with a nice dash of rock/blues influences that spotlights their unique blend.

Don't get too relaxed because they can bring the upbeat with a furious throbbing rhythm and some wicked horn flurry that'll leave you dizzy and shaking it off. I have to say that Let's Sit is my favorite song of this whole album. It cools down with the last 2 songs Getting It Right and Get Up working in some nice laid back reggae and dub with kind of a pop twist.

There are definitely some tunes I skipped through, but thats not uncommon for any disc.
If you have a taste for feel good music, pick this album up.

More info: Ettin on Myspace or Do The Dog Music


  1. Gabe's mom likes this album. Specifically, the song "Feed Me."

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