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Reggae - Released November 23, 2018 | ROIR

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Reggae - Released September 30, 2014 | ROIR

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World - Released September 24, 2013 | ROIR

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Reggae - Released April 24, 2012 | ROIR

As anyone who has come to love the band will know, ever since its debut in 2000, 10 Ft. Ganja Plant's stock in trade has been the kind of slow, loping, and marijuana-steeped roots reggae that came into full, resinous flower in the early to mid-'70s. Their previous seven albums have been almost entirely interchangeable, most of them strictly instrumental and all of them constituting a skillful and heartfelt homage to an art form that is now nearly lost in the gruff shouting of post-ragga dancehall music and the monster-truck rumble of dubstep. The second title in the band's 10 Deadly Shots series, however, finds the group moving out of its usual groove -- though not, as one might expect, forward into the realm of early dancehall or digital styles. Instead, they're now moving backward in time toward the rubber-band grooves of late-'60s rocksteady. On this album they are aided by guest keyboardist Roger Rivas of the brilliant Los Angeleno rocksteady revivalists the Aggrolites (in keeping with 10'GP tradition, he is uncredited on the packaging), and his organ stylings evoke wonderfully the sounds of Jackie Mittoo and the early Upsetters. The 10 Ft. Ganja Plant crew slip without any apparent effort into these springy, elastic grooves, creating a mood on tracks like "The Challenge" and "Invincible Butcher" that recall the days when reggae was still in thrall to American R&B and the imagery of spaghetti westerns, when Lee "Scratch" Perry's Black Ark studio was churning out organ-centered instrumental tracks by the bushel and the sound system dances spun them all night long. It's something of a departure for this band, but one that its fans will likely find perfectly acceptable. © Rick Anderson /TiVo
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IV

Pop/Rock - Released October 25, 2011 | ROIR

Dub Trio's 2005 debut was a wild and frenetic exploration of live dub techniques applied to a variety of reggae and reggae-derived compositions, with strong hints of rock and metal thrown into the mix. Over the course of several subsequent albums, their sonic focus has gradually narrowed; they now sound like a metal band with dub tendencies. IV is a monument to the riff -- sometimes the sludgy Black Sabbath riff, sometimes the skronk-metal downtown-New-York-circa-1985 riff (skronkheads of a certain age will hear more than a hint of vintage Massacre on several tracks here). And there are even times when the band seems to nod at death metal: "Swarm" starts out sounding particularly downtown, but by the end starts feeling like an invocation of the Demon from the Pit. In fact, the album's first four tracks all share a rather claustrophobic, blunt-instrument-to-the-head quality that some will find exhilarating and others simply exhausting. But by "Ends Justify the Means," the sounds starts to open up a bit; a wah-wah-wah dubstep bassline bubbles up from the bottom, and the drumbeats turn spare and stark with subtle dubwise echoes. "Words" starts out rather dreary, struggling to move forward like a beached walrus, but then suddenly opens up into nimbler, dubbier territory again. "1:1.618" features the first really interesting noises of the program, a pastiche of percussion sounds with subtle effects. Then "Thousand Mile Stare" wraps everything up by revisiting virtually every sound and style on the program in sequence, to startlingly cool effect. Established fans will be thrilled by this album; newcomers who wonder why the band is called "Dub Trio" may want to start from the beginning of the band's growing catalog. © Rick Anderson /TiVo
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Reggae - Released August 27, 2011 | ROIR

For their seventh album, upstate New York's roots reggae ambassadors continue the project that has occupied them since their debut in 2000: the revival of '70s-style, dubwise reggae music. Although the band's exact membership is an increasingly irritating mystery (why are we not allowed to know who the singer is on the title track?), it's an open secret that its musical core consists of current and former members of John Brown's Body -- a great reggae band in its own right, but one that has gone off in new stylistic directions in recent years. The very concept of "new stylistic directions" is foreign to 10 Ft. Ganja Plant's modus operandi. Like its predecessors, Shake Up the Place features new compositions written in a very old style, and this time it actually brings on board a couple of voices from back in the day: roots singer Sylford Walker and veteran deejay and producer Prince Jazzbo. Walker contributes vocals on the opening track, "My Roots," which is built on a great groove but offers little of lyrical interest; in fact, it sounds as if Walker may be inventing the lyrics on the spot, and extemporaneous lyrics are not his strong suit. But that relatively weak opening is quickly redeemed by the brilliant "Strength," which sets a delicate but rich horn chart atop a massive, one-drop rhythmic structure. Similarly impressive are the triumphant steppers anthem "Pharaoh's Army" and the Prince Jazzbo vehicle "Africa." And Walker himself rallies nicely on his second outing, the powerful "Hardtimes." Shake Up the Place isn't the best 10 Ft. Ganja Plant album ever, but anyone who has enjoyed the band's previous outings is sure to enjoy this one as well. © Rick Anderson /TiVo
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Pop/Rock - Released September 1, 1980 | ROIR

The Bush Tetras' debut recording was a 7-inch, 45 r.p.m. EP containing three songs highlighted by the title track, a minimalist dance number whose lyrics presented the classic case of street corner female annoyance: "These people give me the creeps," declared Cynthia Sley. Though in the same basic style of new wave dance-rock as, say Talking Heads and the B-52's, the Bush Tetras always had a more sour, austere approach that did not lend itself as well to commerciality but was nevertheless compelling. (All tracks were reissued on the Better Late Than Never album.) © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Reggae - Released June 28, 2011 | ROIR

Kevin Kinsella came to national prominence in the 1990s as the frontman for America's finest roots reggae band, John Brown's Body (and, later, the mysterious instrumental reggae outfit 10 Ft. Ganja Plant as well). Now a solo artist, he has expanded his range without losing any of his ability to generate bottomless reggae grooves, and he exhibits both tendencies on Great Design. The album has a generally soft, peaceful vibe even when Kinsella's lyrical messages are relatively intense and homiletic (his songs have always tended to circle back to religious concerns). Tracks like "All That I Have" and "Lovers in a Time" deliver pure roots reggae bliss with a gentle touch, while "Light of Love" puts layers of acoustic guitar on top of a somewhat more driving rockers beat and "Sunshine" adds hints of nyahbinghi drumming. The songs that fall short of complete success do so nobly: his arrangement of the June Carter Cash composition "Ring of Fire" sounds nothing like Johnny Cash's hit version, and doesn't quite succeed at redefining the song, though it doesn't completely fail either; "No Battlefield" generates an excellent roots rock groove but never quite achieves liftoff. The song you're likely to keep returning to, however, is completely gorgeous: "Stars" is a love song that takes deceptively simple raw materials (a straightforward melodic hook, a shimmeringly beautiful guitar sound, a hushed but sturdy rhythm track) and spins them into pure pop gold. Several other tracks on this very fine album come close to that level of magic, and no song on the program is less than worthwhile. © Rick Anderson /TiVo
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Pop/Rock - Released January 1, 1982 | ROIR

The Stimulators were a band who existed in the gray area between two eras of punk rock -- their earliest performances dated from the latter days of New York Punk's first wave, while they were clearly beginning to favor the more manic and aggressive hardcore style that was taking over when they recorded their first and only album, Loud Fast Rules!, during a gig in Raleigh, NC in the summer of 1981. However, Loud Fast Rules! Never quite settles on one style, and it's never strong enough at either approach to gel into a single, unified sound. Denise Mercedes clearly wanted to be a guitar heroine, but her leads are often too flashy for maximum impact, and when the rest of the band cranks up the tempo, she often sounds as if she's struggling to keep up. Patrick Mack was a pretty good singer, but while he fits fine on the more trad-sounding tunes, he lacks the heavy vocal power the HC-oriented numbers demand. Nick Marden's bass work feels more than a little clunky on most of these tunes, and while drummer Harley Flanagan sounds pretty impressive for a 13-year-old, he made the right move when he moved over to bass to form the Cro-Mags the same year. "Hopeless" and "Crazy House Rock" recall the second string of the early British punk bands, "Dancing in the Front Lines," and "Not the Same" are hardcore without the force and focus the best bands brought to the style, and "Blind Ambition" and "$ick of George" confirm this band should have just left reggae alone. And it doesn't speak well of a punk band when they sound a lot more comfortable playing Kiss' "Rock & Roll All Night" than the Stooges' "I Got a Right." Ultimately, Loud Fast Rules! never quite lives up to its own billing -- the Stimulators aren't that loud or that fast, and they sure don't rule -- and while they had a reputation as one of the better bands on the early-'80s New York scene, this album suggests you had to be there, and on a night other than the one where they rolled tape for this release. © Mark Deming /TiVo
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Pop/Rock - Released October 5, 2010 | ROIR

4 stars out of 5 -- "Opener 'Russian Roulette', with its reverse countdown lyrics, is a masterpiece of mounting tension and fairground flourishes of psychedelic colour..." © TiVo
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Pop/Rock - Released September 7, 2010 | ROIR

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World - Released June 15, 2010 | ROIR

There are reggae devotees, and there are reggae purists, and then there are reggae fetishists. The members of 10 Ft. Ganja Plant are reggae fetishists, and it's not just reggae generally to which they're devoted: it's specifically the reggae of the early to mid-'70s, when the grooves were thick, slow, and smoky, the lyrics had dire apocalyptic imprecations, and the mixes were wild and dubbed-up. By definition, a band like this doesn't "progress": it just keeps rolling on, producing music that is meant to sound like it was written and performed 35 years ago. In the case of their sixth album, it also sounds like it was recorded 35 years ago: the tapes were mastered directly to vinyl, which was used as the master recording for the CD release. So there's a warmth and thickness to the sound that complements perfectly, for example, the elastic rocksteady rhythm of "Dillinger" and the glistening guitars and one-drop thump of "Belle Star." (The apparent Western themes of the track names, which also include "Black Bart," "Apache Kid," and "Jesse James," mean nothing, by the way, although they may be meant as a subtle tribute to some of the Upsetters' vintage reggae and rocksteady instrumental albums of the '60s and '70s.) If you liked this band's first five albums, you'll love this one -- and you'll almost certainly love their next five albums as well. Each release finds them digging deeper and deeper into the very same groove. And good for them. One can only hope that the "Volume 1" in the title suggests a dubwise companion to this album in the near future. © Rick Anderson /TiVo
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Pop - Released April 13, 2010 | ROIR

You don't hear actual four-part harmony an awful lot in pop music these days, not since the heyday of doo wop. You especially don't hear four-part harmony in punk-edged indie rock, so Univox's debut is pretty startling on a number of levels. If it all adds up to a welter of great ideas and sporadically great delivery, that's par for the course -- it's what makes a debut album exciting: hearing the skill and talent and also recognizing hints of the promise that remains to be realized. The album's opening track finds Univox working in an explicitly old-school punk mode, with lead vocals that whinny at the ends of phrases just like Johnny Rotten's used to. But then things get complicated: several tunes, notably "Everybody Knows" and the shambling 6/8 number "Cannonball," bring to mind the Mekons with their cowpunky flavor; others, notably the wonderfully jangly "Lever Master City," evoke the Clash circa London Calling. But none of this prepares you for the deeply bizarre but very fun a cappella song "All This Blood Came from My Heart" or the equally bizarre but somewhat less fun "Bright Lady Light." "Conan" (a tribute to the famous Barbarian) is brilliantly raving pop-punk, while "Mind Traveler's Song" is raw and surf-inflected. The album ends with something of a whimper ("Nobody's That Smart" is structurally ambitious but ultimately fails to cohere) but is a solidly respectable first effort overall. © Rick Anderson /TiVo
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Reggae - Released December 8, 2009 | ROIR

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Rock - Released August 19, 2009 | ROIR

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Reggae - Released July 21, 2009 | ROIR

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 2009 | ROIR

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 7, 2008 | ROIR

The folks at ROIR say that this is Legendary Pink Dots' "most commercially appealing album to date," and the scary (and kind of cool) thing is that they may well be right. Think about that while you're listening to "Torchsong," with its stomping industrial beat, its mechanical-animals-in-agony sound effects, and its faintly menacing vocals. Or the mopey synth pop of "Rainbows Too?," the weirdly whimsical spoken word interlude "An Arm and a Leg," the fingerpicked banjo on "Mailman," or the decidedly creepy album closer "Cubic Caesar." There's a little bit of something for everyone on Plutonium Blonde, and while bands that work intentionally to provide that kind of pandering variety usually end up sounding desperate, the Legendary Pink Dots just sound like the kind of band that can make all kinds of weirdness sound pleasing in many different ways. Notice, for example, the wimp-folk opening to "A World With No Mirrors," on which an acoustic guitar and flute tempt you to turn off the stereo immediately; stick with it, though, and the song suddenly turns into an ambient electric meditation that is startlingly captivating. Notice also how the extended instrumental coda of "Rainbows Too?" actually manages to make layered backwards guitar sound interesting -- bet you never thought you'd hear interesting backward guitars again. They're just that kind of band. © Rick Anderson /TiVo
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Reggae - Released June 6, 2007 | ROIR

10 Ft. Ganja Plant albums never offer musician credits, but the group's identity is no secret: this is a side project by members of John Brown's Body, one of the two or three finest roots reggae bands in America. Usually side projects represent something of a stylistic departure, but in the case of John Brown's Body, the variation sounds an awful lot like the theme -- not that that's a bad thing, by any means. What does seem to set 10 Ft. Ganja Plant apart from its parent organization is an even greater emphasis on mystical, dubwise production textures and a tendency toward instrumentals rather than songs (though John Brown's Body singer Kevin Kinsella makes a number of appearances here). This album opens on a fairly pedestrian note with the so-so "Chalwa," but improves immediately with the dark and dubby "Rebel in the Hills." "Good Time Girl" is a cheerful slice of old-school reggae with a tasty, Ernest Ranglin-style guitar lick; "Off Road Version," though too long by half, is a fine saxophone showcase with an irresistible bassline. Highly recommended to all John Brown's Body fans and anyone else with an insatiable hunger for classic reggae. © Rick Anderson /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released June 5, 2007 | ROIR

Funk-metal supergroup Praxis is one of the vehicles for producer/bassist Bill Laswell's ever-changing musical whims. Consisting of Laswell, Bernie Worrell on synths, and metal-maniacs Buckethead and Brain on guitar and drums, the ensemble has brought its genre-bending fusionist approach to amazed audiences around the world. A live document of their appearance at the 2004 Bonnaroo Festival, TENNESSEE rips through 11 tracks of mind-altering psychedelic metal and avant-jazz experimentation. A thrilling set that blends futuristic dub and hip-hop with the extreme end of musical improvisation, TENNESSEE will reward intrepid explorers of the musical fringe. © TiVo