Reggae, particularly amongst non-Jamaican, white Americans, is a pretty codified, standardized thing. For better or worse, much of what’s produced and consumed follows some variation on Bob Marley, or, if you’re lucky, stretching a little further out to King Tubby and the 90s dance hall boom. For many repetition and homogenization are the rule, but blessedly not so with the Easy Star All-Stars. Having already expanded the genre with their highly appealing, inventive reworkings of Pink Floyd, Radio and The Beatles, the band has moved onto their first full album of original material, First Light (released April 5 on Easy Star Records).
At the risk of over-hyping it, this record rides beautifully next to all the roots reggae and dub masters that built the foundation Easy Star is expanding upon. What separates First Light from the pack is how it holds its own against certified reggae touchstones like Black Uhuru’s Chill Out, Peter Tosh’s Equal Rights and Marley’s Uprising, similarly mixing up swoon-ready lover’s grooves, heady production, gorgeous vocals and subtle social politics. Already a proven live stallion, this set shows Easy Star is capable of carving out their own songwriting niche and not just cleverly reimagining other’s tunes. (Dennis Cook)
Here’s what Easy Star All-Stars’ vocalist Kirsty Rock had to say to our inquiries.
1. Great music rarely happens without…
Passion and red wine.
2. The first album I bought was…
45 rpm of Rod Stewart’s “If You Want My Body “
3. The last song or album to really flip my wig was…
Esperanza Spalding’s Chamber Music Society. Fantastic album and artist. I flipped again when she won best new artist. I think it was a big step forward for live music and musicians.
4. When I was a kid I wanted to grow up to be…
5. My favorite sort of gig is…
When we and the audience are seamless and the audience is singing along so loud that I don’t have to sing at all.
6. One thing I wish people knew about me is…
Rock is not a stage name, it’s my real name.
7. I love the sound of…
My dog when he dreams. He smacks his tail, snores, whimpers, and barks.
8. One day I hope to make an album as fantastic as…
All of the experiences I’ve had in life and on the road. If I could capture a glimpse of that, it would be a masterpiece.
9. The best meal I ever had on tour was at…
Taling Chan Floating Market, Thailand. Snake head fish. Need I say more?
10. I always find the coolest audiences in…
Bad weather. The troopers that come out in rain, snow, flood, mud, these are the truly crazy music lovers.
11. The worst habit I’ve picked up being on the road all the time is…
Needing a tour manager when I’m not on the road.
12. Led Zeppelin or Radiohead, which flips your switch the most and why?
They are both mind blowing and I listen to them at different times for different reasons, but If I had to chose it would be Radiohead. I love Thom Yorke’s lyrics.
13. The craziest thing I ever saw was…
Two ostriches having sex while on tour in South Africa.
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