Pepper - No Shame (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


No Shame (2006)

Atlantic / Volcom

Sublime. As if you thought this site couldn't mention possibly mention them more these days, there I go. Don't worry, this isn't another Sublime reissue or tribute album, it's just Pepper, a band who sound an awful lot like them. SoCal by way of Kona, Hawaii, the trio plays reggae-pop-rock glossed-over, and will leave your mind numb. Whether that is your thing or not, it's gonna happen. Originally discovered by Volcom, this marks the band's fourth full-length and major label debut.

So every review of old Pepper albums I've found, including the two here on our site, mention Sublime up the wazoo, and with good cause. Singer Kaleo Wassman's vocals are as smooth as Brad Nowell's, and the rhythm section of Bret Bollinger on bass and Yesod William on drums lay just as solid a groove. Yet unlike Sublime, they do not mix it up as much with tempos or attitude -- Pepper just lay back and relax the whole record through. Things don't get ‘punk' ever, with no double-time beats or fast tempos to speak of and no snarling or attitude. I would hesitate to even call any of this ska, because it is just so laid back.

"Good Enough" brings distortion into the upbeats and gives off a 311 vibe, funny since Nick Hexum was one of the many producers on the album. Single "No Control" also gives off this vibe with its slightly faster bouncy tempo alternating between upstroke verses and distorted choruses, laid below a catchy and silky vocal line. The standout track on the disc for me would be "Nice Time," which breaks the tempo rut with this toe-tapper and its chorus with a gentle synth line mixing with the relaxed hook of the vocals.

Most of this long album stays in the same groove, but it is a solid groove so what stands out the most are the stinkers. The stuttering "Like Your Style" could only have been done with drum machines, as it can't decide what note-subdivision it wants to utilize with its genuinely awkward rhythms. It settles in, but besides breaking the mold of the record previous with use of synths instead of their usual instruments, it kinda stinks. The band's attempts to be ‘dangerous' or ‘naughty' are just pathetic. "Point and Shoot" talks of "pussy-lickin'" and suggests to "lick your lips / shake your hips / cause that's the shit" all over really crappy distorted guitar. Was that worth the ‘Parental Advisory'? Also, the skits are not funny; an "Intro Skit" at the END of the CD? Hi-larious.

Not a bad party record, No Shame is something to sway along to but not remember afterwards. As far as Sublime followers go, Pepper are solid at what they do. It just doesn't get me too excited.