Ladies and gentlemen. Children of all ages. Gather around. Because for what is sure to be an earth-shatteringly low price, you — yes, you! — can own a 13-track record of real, live original music that features such timeless wisdom as “She brings me honey/ She brings me honey/ She brings me honey/ And honey’s my new jam” or “You best be careful what you promise me/ You best be careful what you promise me/ You best be careful what you promise me/ I got a damn good/ I got a damn good/ I got a damn good memory.”
OK, OK, OK. So maybe that’s a little too cynical and dismissive and unfair and sarcastic, but really guys? Honey’s your new jam? Honestly? There wasn’t anything better that might have been floating up there in any of your heads? Maybe? Possibly? Mercifully?
Truth is, with enough listens, you can forgive lines like that as they spread all over The Get Right Band’s latest set, “Bass Treble Angel Devil.” It’s all in good fun, of course. If there’s one underlying theme throughout each song, it’s a theme fully embedded within some tropical setting, where the good vibes are organic and the food is even more organic-er. There’s funk and there’s reggae. There’s tenderness and there’s sweetness. There’s partying and there’s a Talking Heads cover. And then, of course, there’s honey being that new jam.
When they’re good, they’re better than a lot of other feel-good trios driving up and down the East Coast. The best moment is “Get Right,” a happily happy song clutched from the criminally forgotten influences of someone like Hepcat. Upstrokes abound and tempos change to impressive degrees. It’s one thing to do white-boy reggae and have it pass the Top 40 Test (hey there, Jason Mraz!), but it’s another to get the roots right, and while it takes them almost three minutes to get there, the 20 seconds of Jamaican authenticity that eventually peek through speak volumes to the group’s abilities.
Equally as fun is “You Can Come,” which channels the better parts of Sublime, if Adam Levine joined Sublime and somehow never wrote “She Will Be Loved.” The groove is as 1990s West Coast as it comes, and the drummer/bassist tandem of Jian-Claude Mears and Jesse Gentry certainly deserve props for their leather-tight continuity. You can’t pull this stuff off if your rhythm section can’t walk in lockstep, and each time the duo is called upon to create chemistry, they accomplish as much with ease.
“Lovin’ in the Kitchen” and “We Work All Day” go on to showcase the band’s funk chops with varying degrees of success. The former slithers along with the help of a wah-wah pedal and singer Silas Durocher’s semi-high-pitched intonations that recall the aforementioned Maroon 5 leader and, perhaps more accurately, pop singer Gavin Degraw. The latter, meanwhile, comes out of the gate strikingly as it pulls from the first section of the Staples Sisters’ classic “I’ll Take You There.” Those influences gain in momentum by the time the bridge comes around — if you can’t hear Steve Cropper’s influence in Durocher’s middle-section guitar, you need to take a trip to Memphis’ Stax Records museum yesterday.
Only when these guys veer away from those funk and reggae roots do they occasionally stumble. “Satisfied Man” (which features that classic honey line) is a play for pop, with its towering drums and overused hand-claps, that might work if the band just thought it through a little more. “Love Won’t Come Around” really does feel like a Mraz C-side, despite its pretty vocal harmonies and acoustic-reggae structure. “Broken Paradise” is only kind of uneven, its cut-tempo train-beat appearing more confused than aggressive. And “Give It” moves slow with psychedelia, a dangerous move for a band so good at wanting to make people feel so good.
Still, you can’t deny The Get Right Band’s intentions. And their intentions, without any doubt, are those of utmost purity. Yeah, the actual production is somewhat surprisingly not nearly as hi-fi as you might prefer, and sure, it’s clear this trio is most likely best heard on a stage rather than in a studio. But there are a lot of things to value on “Bass Treble Angel Devil,” not the least of which is the band’s unwaveringly sunny disposition.
“Some mornings I wake up shaking because it’s all so good/ I was never looking for anything more than this,” Durocher relays during his record’s best moment. That’s fine and all. But next time, what do you say we work on finding you a new jam? Because with just a little more flavor, you might be able to realize that good isn’t nearly as satisfying when you’re capable of producing something great.
** 2 1/2 STARS OUT OF 4 **