Who doesn’t love a little bit of reggae to end the summer? Although the music’s Caribbean roots don’t always translate to great tunes when Americanized (or Canadianized, thanks Magic! and Snow) by pale folks, a few white boys have figured out how to put together a good roots-y jam.
Here are 10 of our favorite white reggae-based artists.
10. Slightly Stoopid
Whiteboy reggae is already among the bro-iest/douchiest categories of music out there, but no one brings out the bros quite like Slightly Stoopid. Sure, they’re that same reggae-rock-punk-whatever fusion style that so many current groups are, but they’re among the biggest and most popular reggae-rock-punk-whatever fusion bands. If you’re going to essentially be a modern-day jam band, you might as well keep almost a dozen band members with you for each live show, and Slightly Stoopid does that as well as anyone.
9. The Dirty Heads
Yep, you’ve heard that one song by the Dirty Heads with the guy who’s essentially turned Sublime (could they possibly be on this list?) into a cover band. There’s nothing wrong with the tune, but it’s not exactly what the Dirty Heads sound like. Compared to many white reggae bands, the Dirty Heads are more hip-hop-influenced than rock-based. Their style isn’t for everyone, and traditional reggae fans might tell you they’re everything wrong with the genre these days, but if you like your music blended instead of on the rocks, the Dirty Heads are better than most of what you’ll hear.
8. Cisco Adler
In the world of white island-based solo artists/producers, it’s tough to find anyone who’s put out as many quality and diverse songs as Cisco Adler. Adler’s work has ranged from rock to rap to reggae and everything in between, but his solo albums (particularly 2012’s Aloha) contain some classic catchy white reggae on them. If Adler isn’t “reggae” enough for your refined rasta palate, Collie Buddz deserves an honorable mention as another awesome solo white reggae artist.
When it comes to white island-based reggae bands, Iration is as good as it gets. The Hawaii//California-based group isn’t as rock-infused as many of their current counterparts, but their grooves are every bit as good, if not better. If you’re looking for tunes to jam out to while having a good time in some sunshine, Iration is as good of a place to start as any. For 2015 white reggae, they’re about as pure and solid as you’ll find.
6. Tribal Seeds
If you’re not really into reggae music, just know that Tribal Seeds is the successful and award-winning band that either headlines the club shows your stoner friends go to or opens for a lot of the bigger names you’ve heard of before. Four albums into their career, Tribal Seeds has proven to be one of the most consistently solid and successful independent reggae bands in the scene, and the San Diego-based group shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
5. The Expendables
Ever wondered what the ultimate stoner love song would sound like? Check out “Bowl for Two” off of 2004’s Gettin’ Filthy, and that’s your answer. The whole album is actually a pretty spectacular display of 21st century reggae-rock, and their entire catalog is worth checking out if you’re into that sort of thing. They’re almost as much “stoner rock” as they are reggae, but they’re damn good at it, whatever you want to call it.
Here’s a fun fact: 311 is a band we irrationally hate (along with Dave Matthews Band, Duran Duran, U2, and Counting Crows). There’s nothing we enjoy about them, and if it was just us, we’d leave them off the list. That said, tons of people love them and think their music is awesome for some reason unbeknownst to us. There, we put them on the list. Happy?
Power trios always deserve a little extra love, and Pepper is probably the best three-piece reggae outfit still performing today (or just with three living members, for that matter). Pepper is about as good of a reggae-rock group as has ever been around (barring one that will be mentioned soon), and they do it all with the minimum number of people. “Ashes” is an all-time classic. “Give It Up” is one of those songs you forget about until you hear it randomly and forget how sick of it you were when it was popular, and “Stormtrooper” will always have its time and place.
There’s plenty of debate as to who are the current kings of whiteboy reggae. If you ask us, the answer to that question is Rebelution. The Santa Barbara quartet has put out four of the best reggae albums of the last decade, and they’re constantly touring on top of it. Courage to Grow is among the best reggae records of the ‘00s, and the band’s laid-back vibe is a nice change of pace from their harder reggae-rock contemporaries.
Like you didn’t see that one coming. And no, the new stuff with Rome doesn’t count.