If there’s a message to take away from the new Communicate EP by New Orleans quartet All People, perhaps it’s the one spoken on the “Introduction,” which reads: It is the very act of struggling against the resistance in our minds that ultimately results in our strength.
But these guys know struggling alone isn’t any fun. On the disc’s other spoken-word track, “Untitled,” they recognize that we have created an idea…the best truth is held between me and you.
It’s this spirit of solidarity that ties Communicate, a musical biofeedback system wherein band and listener get their groove on courtesy All People’s distinct bouillabaisse of dub, reggae, and hardcore. One minute you’re skanking, the next you’re head-banging.
The Big Easy group consists of Daniel “D-Ray” (vocals, keys, trombone), Robert Landry (drums), Ryan Leavelle (guitar, vocals), and Greg Rodrigue (bass, vocals)—but the playful new EP also features contributions from Stephen MacDonald (tenor sax), Evan Cvitanovic (percussion), and Michelle Ausman (vocals).
The aforementioned “Introduction” shuffles to a bop-jazz rhythm established by shakers and snare. “Sometimes” commences with an electric guitar riff but incorporates funky keyboards / organ and pulsating bass as the music shifts from verse to verse, morphing from rock to dub-step to reggae. A fuzz-tone guitar solo adorns the bridge, which plays out and disintegrates into an outro bass line that helps the audience decompress.
“Unhindered” sports more growling guitars and psychedelic noise in a vignette that imagines some outer space invasion (“It came from the future, controlled by computer…my home is gone”). Synthesizers keep the mix from veering into prototypical stoner rock and add to the ‘50s B-movie vibe. Landry turns in a kinetic drum solo at the front end of “An Impression,” his brisk tempo and cymbal ticking propelling more tropical island-meets-alterative rock rhythms. A trombone blares jubilantly, followed by a distorted guitar lead, as D-Ray and friends pursue their objective: Tonight we’ve got to be loud, amplify the buh-buh-burning. We’re not looking for the credit or the cash, we’re only looking to make an impression that will last.
Swirling keys and warbling bass course through the instrumental “Forever Dub.” Shouts are heard behind the frantic punk-ska of “Fleeting,” whereon D-Ray swears off “forced relaxation” in favor of realization; it’s a can’t-take-it-with-you philosophy lesson that blows by at a metronomic clip.
The sardonic “Industry” taps listeners’ frustrations with “the state of things” and channels our collective jadedness into Leavelle’s chucka-chucka rhythm guitar. The sing-song chorus mockingly implies that “more and more money” is all anyone really needs, but the music itself—including the twangy guitar licks—suggest otherwise.
“All I see is cheaply made apartment buildings, construction workers and lost souls,” they sing, mirroring the American zeitgeist.
All People’s latest 22-minute ska sublimation was recorded near the band’s HQ of Algiers, Louisiana and mixed by James Whitten. Mike Piacentini handled the mastering. Communicate available now on CD and 12” vinyl at the links below.