What time is it? It’s Five40 !

Rocking the scene since 2013, Atlanta’s ‘Five40’s’ debut album “Inhale the Sound” has dropped.  According to the band they play a “…mixture of reggae, rock and ska [that] has been described as smooth, powerful and sometimes hypnotic.  Let’s have a listen…

 

  1. “Positivity”- A lone guitar starts things off, followed by quiet percussion and a spacey synthesizer. The song changes tempo frequently, switching between a “chill” and more “frantic” mood.  There is also an excellent guitar solo near the end.  This is one of the more unique songs I have heard in the genre.  Grade: A-

 

  1. “Out of My Head”- This is your classic laid back reggae rock number. I’m not sure if it is studio trickery or not, but the trumpet solo at the 2:00 mark has the richest tone I have ever heard. Amazing!  Also the organ really kicks it up a notch near the end.  Grade: A

 

  1. “Burn for Me”- This appropriately named tune starts out as a “slow burn” taking about a minute before the trumpet and vocals begin.  This rather mellow number does in fact rock out towards the end, letting the guitar player stretch his musical legs, so to speak.  Also there is nice accenting by the trumpet once again.  This song is amazing!  Grade: A

 

  1. “Breathe”- Even for those that are vehemently against any type of rap-style lyrics, this is not off-putting. Also this style contrasts very nicely with the smoother vocal stylings found during other parts of the song.  There are also long gaps between the vocals, letting the instrumentation shine.  Grade: A-

 

  1. “The Swap”- “The Swap” switches things up vocally again, but this time the smooth vocals are interjected with a gruffer style. Overall, I did not enjoy this and for me it takes away from the song a bit.  I do love the organ part however, making this still an above average tune.  Grade: B+

 

  1. “Feelin’ Alright”- This next song is relatively stripped down musically, featuring nothing more than the guitar, bass and drums.  It is near the last minute where the almost psychedelic organ comes onto the scene, much like that in  “Positivity.”  I have a feeling that this one will grow on me the more I listen to it.  Grade: A-

 

  1. “Smokin’”-Hmmm, a reggae band that sings a song about smoking. I didn’t see this one coming!  Clichés aside, this is a great song that showcases more of this band’s signature sound.  I dig it.  Grade: A-

 

  1. “Skarma”- This is a reggae rock number interjected with the third wave sound. It seems a bit disjointed at times, switching back and forth between the two styles.  The musicianship is here, but overall, this one fell a little flat with me.  Grade: B

 

  1. “Ocean Floor”- “Ocean Floor” takes the formula from many of the previous songs on this album:  having a relatively mellow number for 2/3 of the song and then letting the organ/trumpet do their thing at the end.  Pushing this aside, I really love this number.  And although there is nothing new or groundbreaking in terms of style, this song is as amazing as the rest.  Good job fellows!  Grade: A

 

There is ska and then there is reggae and then there is reggae rock.  While I enjoy all of these genres to a certain extent, ska is my favorite as it lends itself to greater variety (traditional, 2-tone, ska-punk, metal-ska etc.).  Bands in the other two categories tend to all sound the same after a while.  Or so I thought: enter Five40.  Caught somewhere between Starpool’s Alan Meade and The Urge’s Steve Ewing, Five40’s lead singer leads his musical troops on a full scale reggae-rock attack.  The smooth vocals are found on every track of ‘Inhale the Sound,’ and are the cornerstone to the likeability of the album as a whole.  Even when more range in vocal style is shown as in “Breath” and “The Swap” the songs are still a class act.  What makes this band stand head and shoulders above the rest in the reggae rock class are the use of the trumpet and organ.  Sure these are mainstays in both reggae and ska, but it is how they are used here that is truly special.  Never before have I heard the organ/synthesizer used to create the spacey, psychedelic sound in the ska/reggae world.  This is usually reserved for prog. rock and more recently, the indie music scene.    This is truly fantastic here and gives this band that certain edge, while remaining true to its roots at the same time.  Moving on to the trumpet.  As mentioned before, it seems that the trumpet here has a richer tone-maybe because it is found by itself and not muddled amongst other horns.  Anyway-kudos.   Every song here is great and I can’t wait to have a second (and third) listen.  This band has changed my mind on the reggae-rock set and I hope it will for you too.  So take a moment, lay back and “inhale the sound.”

 

Overall Grade: A-

 

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