Mangoseed - Basquiat (Cover Artwork)


Basquiat (2014)


Reggae-rock group Mangoseed lacks almost of all the creative genius the band's eponymous album may suggest. Named after the late Jean-Michael Basquiat, a New York street artist whose works defined the drug-induced art culture of the late '80s, they hardly do the famous artist justice.

The debut album, Basquiat, from the UK four-piece includes 15 tracks of reggae-rock fusion that sound like the slowed down b-side rejects of the Bad Brains legendary album I Against I. In this case however there is no H.R, as the vocals hardly catch an ear, hit the right pitch and rarely even keep a tune. Most of the guitar work, when not consisting of the simple repetitive scratching movements of the common reggae band, take the form of phased out rocking pentatonic riffs, a la Sublime, and smashing hard rock RHCP grooves. The rhythm section stays fairly grounded, while nothing spectacular they hold it steady.

The opening track generally speaks volumes for the rest of the record, getting the listener amped up for what is to come. "Lioness," the mid-tempo hard rock horror story of a woman killing her significant other, does about the opposite. Off-pitch vocals, boring repetitive guitar lines and underplayed drumming make up for an almost irritating lead off. The next song, "Careful," consists of fairly decent drum work on the hi-hat, but where it fails is in its overuse of the synth and rap-styled vocals. A lethal combination when used, or over used, inappropriately. The balled "Rise and Shine" breaks the reggae and rock party up near the end of the album. As the marijuana smoke clears, clean shimmering guitars, airy synths, jazz-styled drumming and wind chimes sooth the listener into a deep coma. Yes, wind chimes.

To live up to a name as great as Jean-Michael Basquiat is a challenging feat. No fault to the band, but perhaps setting the bar a little lower with your album titles would be more in line with the groups development.