“I know I’ve been talking like this for months / But tomorrow, that change is going to come.”
It’s not like The Get Right Band was ever a bad band, of course. 2014’s “Bass Treble Angel Devil” was good, if not great at times. Yeah, we poked fun at a lyric or two, but as a whole, the set was a solid blend of reggae, funk and rock, the type of feel-good music that would fit in well right next to O.A.R. on some type of jam cruise. Minor quibbles notwithstanding, there was a lot to value within most of those 13 songs.
“Who’s In Charge?,” though? Holy bananas, there’s a change and it’s a good one.
The funny thing is that you can’t quite pin down the change. Is there a higher production level? Maybe. Are these guys tighter as a band a couple years later? Probably. But is there one solid, tangible factor we can point to in order to explain how or why this latest record by The Get Right Band is one of the best of 2016 so far? Not really. Just know that it is. And just know that you’d be a fool to ignore it.
It begins with the crack of Jian-Caude Mears’ snare drum and a title track that rocks in the most deliciously subdued ways. Lead singer Silas Durocher even has a little bit of Starsailor’s James Walsh in him, his feathery vocals receiving a tiny dose of fuzz when the defiant chorus rises. At first glance, it appears like a simple rock romp, but the slimy, slinky verses announce these guys as forward-thinking jammers who aren’t afraid to explore and reimagine a pop groove.
“Beginner’s Love,” however, completely redefines what we once knew The Get Right Band to be. Whereas they might have been an adequate, competent answer for those who quenched some traditional funk rock, “Love” allows these guys to get their Galactic on, fully equipped with horns so hot, they come best served with gumbo and catfish. Throw in some woodblock — along with some bass shredding from Jesse Gentry — for good measure and you’ve got yourself a bonafide party on the bayou. “Exciting” isn’t even the half of it.
In fact, “exciting” is almost an insult to something as layered, sprawling and ambitious as “Munitions Man.” The album’s best track nearly eclipses the seven-minute mark and it’s a tour de force of spacey reggae that echoes, stretches, bursts and recedes with equal parts perfection and taste. Plus, the band doesn’t mess with the formula. Unlike spots on “Bass Treble Angel Devil,” where perhaps these guys attempted to slightly combine square holes and round pegs (check the end of “Get Right” as an example), the Rastafari-infused vibes never let up here, and that’s a sign of much-appreciated maturity.
Other signs of growth come in the form of “Write This Song For You” and “Heartbreak Kid.” The former is led through a forest of soul rock via a guitar line from Durocher that bounces as much as it drives. Then, when Mears opts for a double-time drum beat throughout the hook, you suddenly realize the relevance of the missing link. The latter, meanwhile, is a bittersweet ode to a complicated romance that signifies Durocher’s development as a songwriter. Gone are the cheesy feel-good lyrics; in is a perspective that’s as provocative as it is world-weary.
And if you want to dance, these guys are happy to help you with that, too. “Belt Loops” is almost early Fitz & The Tantrums-y with its disco flair, fast-moving groove and infectious guitar hook. Baltimore rock quartet The Milestones would be proud. “Requiem For The Chemical Memory” then takes a true-blue pop-reggae structure and all but paints the picture of a tie-dyed field swaying in unison. If Sublime already mastered it, The Get Right Band took the time to make sure they continue to carry the flag with pride.
Pride is something these three guys should have a lot of after listening back to “Who’s In Charge?” It may be only their third studio release, but it’s eons ahead of anything they’ve offered up in the past. These songs are infinitely more focused, unapologetically more polished and excitingly more expansive than a lot of other independent music in the area and for that, The Get Right Band deserves not just your attention, but also your respect, if not your full admiration.
Indeed, a change has come. And indeed, change is good.
*** 3 1/2 STARS OUT OF 4 ***