Despite the genre's radical roots, there's something about modern reggae that makes it difficult for fans of classic reggae to fully embrace. Perhaps because it's so easy to denigrate modern reggae as passionless music for stoners — smoke weed, tinker with a guitar, and become a rock star. Mix the same, monotonous melody with laid-back vocals and electric guitars that pop with the tempo of the beat and you suddenly have a record praised by every tokin' rocker in the country — something with the feel-good vibe of Bob Marley but none of the activism. Modern reggae practitioners Rebelution have something else going for them. Like many of their weed-rock predecessors, they formed in college over a love of California beaches, laid-back music and, presumably, marijuana. (Considering their second album is titled Room to Grow, it's hard to doubt these assumptions are off-base.) But rather than smoking their way through school, it seems the Santa Barbara four-piece actually got hip to social issues and progressive politics. When you blend care with crafty, less-cliché melodies and a serious stance on fun, you have a fully realized group gaining some well-deserved steam. Or smoke. They look the same from a distance.
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