‘Change’ combines angry protest lyrics with bouncing reggae
Following a hectic and action packed festival run this summer, including appearances at Boomtown Fair and Rebellion Punk Music Festival, the nine-piece are back with a host of thumping material. After offering exclusive EP cut ‘Grabbed My Hand’ as a free download earlier this Autumn, the four-track EP brings a new lease of life to the Essex-based collective’s repertoire – with a cacophony of dub-heavy reggae hits.
This EP demonstrates just a small selection of the bands attacking arsenal, with tracks ranging from mellow, chilled-out reggae reminiscent of Gregory Isaacs, to upbeat Summer-fuelled ska of a similar vein to The Specials.
Opening track, ‘Change’, a politically-fuelled rant, kickstarts the EP in determined fashion, taking little time in showing what the New Town Kings are all about. An easy-going yet powerful bassline drives through whilst an army of horns provide fanfare-like reinforcement. Frontman Dabs Bonner orchestrates the proceedings with a compelling chant of ‘Got to change the ways of man’, demonstrating the Essex-based group’s stance on all things political with a rousing call to arms. This powerful opener sets the tone for the rest of the EP, showing that the New Town Kings pull no punches when it comes to writing potent reggae tunes.
Next up is ‘Luna Rosa’, an explosive ska anthem with dominant Latin rhythms and rowdy up-beat vibes. Regimented off-beat guitars and vibrant horns get this party-fuelled shanty into top gear, while its pulsing bassline proves its driving force. Embellished with dashes of expressive percussion and a solitary Hammond organ, ‘Luna Rosa’ is packed to the brim with power.
‘Grabbed My Hand’, a laidback reggae anthem, is the perfect platform to showcase their versatility in the genre: a mellow backdrop of dub-heavy basslines and elegant horn-licks providing Bonner with a canvas to paint a vivid picture with his heartfelt lyrics.
The concluding track to the EP, ‘Cool The Pressure Down’, speaks of calmness in the face of aggression. This rocksteady number is a guaranteed toe-tapper, with bassist Tommy Marchant driving proceedings with a deep and deadly sub. Drummer Sky Roskell-Cheale provides a solid spine, allowing guitar duo Stuart McClung and John Maynard to drive the track on. A mellow and positive conclusion, ‘Cool The Pressure Down’ leaves the EP on a high note, with saxophonist Rory Sadler closing the tune with a Dean Fraser-esque solo.