November 2, 2015

Big Sugar Yard Style Album Review

big sugar yard style nightmair creative

Big Sugar “Yard Style” review
written by Gregory Nott

Big Sugar fans rejoice, it’s a new album from the fabulous blues/ reggae group from Toronto, ON.

Don’t look for huge, overdriven guitar songs here, though. ‘Yard Style‘ is a bit of a departure for them, but it remains true to, and even underlining, their roots as a band.

Yard Style‘ features acoustic re-takes of classic Big Sugar favorites such as “Turn The Lights On” and “Little Bit A Allright” and combines these gems with various brand new tracks like “Calling All The Youth” and “Police Bway The Vampire”. And I am here to tell you that the amount of soul and heartbeat felt in these 13 performances is nothing short of astounding.

Present and accounted for are the regular members of the outfit: Gordie “Grady” Johnson (gtr/ vocals), Garry Lowe (bass), Kelly “Mr. Chill” Hoppe (horns/ harmonica), Stephane Bodean (drums) and last but not least, toastmaster DJ Friendlyness (keys, vocals). Also present is a special soul and reggae guru Willi Williams. Hailing from Trenchtown, Jamaica before relocating to Toronto, Williams’ influence is felt all over this recording. Johnson comments that Wiiliams, aka Mr. Armagideon, is the solidifying force for this conceptual album. Conceptual, indeed…

Very noticeable on ‘Yard Style‘ are elemental inclusions such as the sounds of ocean waves and tree frogs chirping at the night. Sounds as though this record was recorded on the beach just outside of Kingston, Jamaica. The glue, though, is in the Nyabinghi drums heard throughout the recording. Johnson refers to the instrument as “the heartbeat, the first great acoustic instrument”. I would have to agree with Grady’s sentiments on this membranophone. I couldn’t imagine this recording would have been possible without it.

All in all, ‘Yard Style‘ is strong and very au naturel, at times even seeming sparse. This is for effect and leaves a smile on my face thinking of the challenge Big Sugar faced in revealing it’s need to find comfort in its’ roots and history. Good on you for finding the mark!!

Check it out on iTunes, and check out Big Sugar’s new video for Natty Dread Lock HERE

Check out Big Sugar on
Website (including current tour dates across Canada)

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written by Gregory Nott



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