House of Shem: Island Vibration
By Jonathan Carson
‘Island Vibration’ is the sophomore album by Aotearoa reggae band House of Shem. Reggae is a genre that I don’t think you can sit on the fence for, and this is being written from the side of the fence that means ‘reggae’ is my next-door neighbour. All of the essential components are there – upstrokes on the guitar, syncopated drumbeats, a crisp horn section and classic three-part harmonies, but there is minuscule variation between the songs to keep a listener (on this side of the fence) engaged. However, for reggae fans this is an album that is bound to get you skanking. ‘Island Vibration’ was recorded in 2010 at Roundhead Studios in Auckland with Jamaican producer Errol Brown (Bob Marley & The Wailers, Damian Marley, Lauren Hill) and mixed at Bob Marley’s very own Tuff Gong studios in Jamaica. The production is world class featuring lucid guitar tones, tasteful horns, and tasteful, traditional ‘reggae snare hits’. House of Shem is comprised of a host of reggae veterans and the musicianship and song writing reflects the wealth of experience. Songs like Party exhibit an appreciation for reggae-tinged ‘pop’ with lyrics like “Get high if you want to, fly if you want to”, while others such as Jah Light return to more traditional reggae themes of consciousness. In short, if you like reggae – you’ll love this.