Bedouin Soundclash

    Though Bedouin Soundclash can’t claim to know the desert, they can claim to hail from Kingstown town. But that would be the Kingston of Ontario, Canada. Eh?

    The “soundclash” part is a bit more truthful — genre blending is the band’s credo, as declared in the title of their latest effort. Sounding a Mosaic, released in 2005, following their suprisingly successful 2002 debut Root Fire, was recorded live and on the cheap while the boys were still college freshmen. Canadians say “mosaic” a bit like Americans say “melting pot” — but, according to the band, their term connotes multiculturalism rather than assimilation. Bedouin Soundclash are a socially conscious bunch, as befits a reggae band, with lyrics hitting everything from immigration to the repercussions of Sept. 11 (without forgetting to mention rude boys and jungles, too — still relevant, it turns out).

    Yet while Sounding a Mosaic takes in traces of dub, ska and Clash-conscious rock — and best of all a bit of folk on the single “When the Night Feels My Song” — the Soundclash nevertheless end up playing a pretty predictable blend of updated reggae. That’s nothing too new for North American reggae, but it hasn’t hurt the Soundclash, thanks to the sturdy dub bass of Eon Sinclair (a son of immigrants from Guyana) and Wailer-worthy laments from frontman Jay Malinowski. This laid-back slickness is all the more surprising given that Darryl Jennifer, the bassist of the reggae-influenced hardcore group Bad Brains, produced the album. The disparate artists must have bonded over their one love for reggae, but this doesn’t harden the Soundclash one bit.

    The band’s been polishing its live act on the road this past year, opening for obvious companions like Burning Spear, Ozomatli, the Marley Brothers and Slightly Stoopid, as well as less likely choices like indie rock compatriots Broken Social Scene. Their Sun God performance may be a nice interlude in the lineup for those who feel like hearing something a little more festive than screamo.

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