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Review: Rebelution's 'Count Me In'

A wholesome lifestyle aesthetic, positive vibrations and heartfelt mark Rebelution’s "Count Me In."

Led by San Franciscan vocalist-guitarist Eric Rachmany, a shrewd dancehall and reggae enthusiast, Rebelution continue to maintain their high level of creativity on Count Me In. Spunky guitar licks, punchy horn snips and spicy riddims decorate this delightful disc.

For nearly a decade, the Santa Barbara-based band has put out crisply clean and totally efficient California-styled reggae, dancehall and ska-related pop that's completely accessible to the masses yet rootsy enough to satisfy more discriminating tastes.

Their inspired 2007 debut, Courage to Grow, set the pattern for future endeavors, offering lionhearted lyrics advocating self-respect and taking social responsibility. Bright Side of Life in 2009 further cemented Rebelution's growing reputation. This was followed by their 2012 breakthrough Peace of Mind, which debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's reggae chart.

Most of Count Me In straddles two convenient and separate categories: strict reggae and meditational balladry. The heartfelt "More Love" meshes the two, tossing a mid-tempo reggae beat at the mellifluous horn-spiked titular choruses. Sleepy-eyed lullaby, "Fade Away," and adolescent '70s soul-shuffled dancehall epistle, "Notice Me," sway gently in the summer breeze as well.

In a similar vein, hook-filled snub, "Counterfeit Love," proves to be an instructional lovelorn tale concerning a nasty vixen who's most likely the heartbreaking muse wronging a naive guy in beach-time ska scamper, "Hate to Be the One," which features Collie Buddz.

The album's finest moment comes when the diligent six-piece combo goes back in time on "Roots Reggae Music" - a celebratory anthem featuring Black Uhuru's Don Carlos spewing catchphrases that praise music as the "message." In step with that nostalgic number (though ominously moodier), jazz-rock-affected horns and a hot organ groove bolster the ominous insurrection of "Against the Grain."

With a broader audience than their stonier reggae-derived peers, greater stardom awaits Rebelution as they continue to mine familiar turf with exceptional results.

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John Fortunato

John Fortunato

Longtime music critic with a special interest in beer, based in New Jersey. Check out his website beermelodies.com.