Ellwood – Lost In Transition – Review

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Americans first set out and ventured West in search of greener pastures, and to dredge the earth for an alarming amount of gold sprouting up along what is now know as California. Since then, many have come for all different kinds of things, such as fame, opportunity, and my favorite, prostitution). Mad Caddies front-man Chuck Robertson recently headed back to his less stressful, SoCo farm community, where he decided he should make reggae-influenced ska with the help of a few old friends (most namely old Caddies drummer Todd Rosenberg). The result is the carefree, Fat Wreck Chords-backed, effort “Lost In Transition,” which despite having the ska punk elements and members of Mad Caddies, is a much more laid-back band and relaxed effort.

Normally a bouncy island rock beat with a running bassline and a word-crammed verse bar isn’t my cup of tea. And while the punk-influenced ska of Mad Caddies works pretty well because it’s not only fun-loving, it’s energetic as well — not to mention their songs are slightly more relatable and involved than most ska bands. The band Ellwood however, takes a nod from artists like Sublime and 311, choosing to abandon cappuccino-fueled tracks about goofy encounters, in favor of tree-hugging love songs such as “Sunshine Garden” and the thumping, island-bound, reggae track about love and no regrets, ”Don’t Look Back.”

Lost In Transition” therefore is an effort that feels a bit flighty and doesn’t seek ambition (for better or worse), rather it plays a predictable riff and stays in an herbal-induced musical coma filled with well balanced vocal melody and grooving bass. At times Chucks lyrics feel a tad dumbed down to match this relaxed setting, leading to songs like “Walking Away,” where the track title is repeated ad nauseum. When they pick up though, like in the romantic serenades of “Wrong Night,” the album feels like it carries more weight and purpose than before.

So if you love Mad Caddies but (for some reason) you don’t like punk or ska, and would prefer a lighter-toned reggae-influenced chill-a-thon, then Ellwood has nine tracks to smoke with your friends to. “Lost In Transition” is repetitive, featuring mimicking up-stroke guitars at almost every turn, saved only by the bands infectious thumping basslines and warming charm.  Like Reggaeton however, it’s repetitious nature is almost built into the DNA of the genre, so the album has no choice but to follow along. Uncreative flaws don’t seem to matter much though, as listeners most likely aren’t coming to Ellwood for an enlightened listen — more likely for music to wind down the summer nights with. [Staff]

Score: 3 (out of 5)

Release Date: June 21st, 2011
Record Label: Fat Wreck Chords
Genre: Reggae-Ska

RIYL: Sublime, 311, Mad Caddies

Track Listing:
1. The Deal
2. Walking Away
3. Sunshine Garden
4. There She Is
5. Mag Girl Download
6. Amsterdam Ray
7. Dancin’ Girl
8. Wrong Night
9. Don’t Look Back

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