Bedouin Soundclash - Street Gospels (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Bedouin Soundclash

Street Gospels (2007)

Dine Alone / SideOneDummy

Though the Canadian music scene has always played host to some terrific output, the artists that are embraced by mainstream culture are often a bit embarrassing. Recently however, some of Canada's more promising groups are finally getting a spot in the limelight. While most of these come from Canada's celebrated indie scene, one group is a little reggae-pop act known as Bedouin Soundclash, who had an unlikely rise to national fame a year after a track from their Stomp!-released sophomore album Sounding a Mosaic was featured in a Zellers ad and had a nation of Canucks humming along.

Looking to repeat that success, the group hasn't changed much for Street Gospels. They remain independent (Dine Alone Records in Canada, SideOneDummy elsewhere), vocalist Jay Malinowski continues to design the album art, Bad Brains bassist Darryl Jenifer is once again behind the boards as producer, and the boys still play their chill mix of rock, reggae, punk, and soul with enough easy-listening appeal that your parents will probably be just as excited to hear it as you are. The largest change to be found is a good one: no remix tracks to end the disc (thank goodness).

From the opening notes of "Until We Burn in the Sun (The Kids Just Want a Love Song)" to the closing ones of "Hearts in the Night," Street Gospels is solid throughout. First single "Walls Fall Down" has enough hooks to ensure that it will be instilled in your mind after a single listen, while the ska-influenced "St. Andrew's" might just be the best track the band has produced. "12:59 Lullaby" is among the softest tracks the trio has done, with drummer Pat Pengelli sitting out while bassist Eon Sinclair provides only a few bouncy notes sparingly to accompany Malinowski's guitar and vocals. No instruments even appear on the strong a cappella track "Hush," one of the few surprises to be found here.

While Bedouin Soundclash have produced what could certainly be considered a safe album, they have done so in a consistent and focused manner that manages to incorporate a wide variety of influences into their sound. If this is the future of commercial Canadian music, then you won't hear any complaints from me.