Why is it when the better half cooks I wash up, and when I cook….I wash up? Still, it’s a contribution I don’t mind making, I can stick on some tunes and skank my way through the chore, pathetically attempting to relive my misspent youth. The Mrs, or even my daughter shouts at me to turn it down, only adding to the authenticity.
Listening to music isn’t the same for kids these days, all plugged into headphones or else absorbing a tinny rattle through a phone speaker the size of an amoeba. Even if the kids do go overboard, volume wise, parents contact them via Facebook messenger. None of this screaming at the top of your voice from the bottom step, or banging on ceilings with a broom, for speakers in my day had to be immense, sounds had to be ear-splitting and bass had to rumble rafters, knocking Mum’s ornaments off the mantelpiece.
For this particular washing up chore, a week ago, and therein since, I’ve thankfully been handed See Me Rise, the debut vinyl EP from the Urban Lions, after we spotlighted their appearance at the Save The Barge gig in Pewsey, in exchange for some words of appraisal.
Here’s a sound, released yesterday for Record Store Day, on Lionheart Records, which is favourably heard in the archaic method of large speakers and ornament wobbling bass-bins. Here is a contemporary steppers reggae vibe with certain panache, an abundance of bass, melodic rhythms and the whole shebang which makes reggae so blinding. It reminds me of discovering the awesome Zion Train Sound System in the 1990s, when we shared a page in a zine.
However unlike those crossover bands of the nineties, Zion Train, Dreadzone, etc, there’s a more wholesome dedication to roots. The Urban Lions don’t fuse techno, it’s unadulterated reggae, nodding to UK dub greats like the pioneering Jah Shaka sound.
Collective touring band and sound system, The Urban Lions, based in the southwest of England, are currently rising up through the underground UK roots and dub scene, and deservedly out onto the world stage. With this release it’s easy to see why, or hear why, does that make sense? Darn, it is Sunday after all.
Recorded and mastered by Matt Martin of Conscious Youth/MOA/Pressure Mastering, See Me Rise plods with natural ease, combining the band’s root reggae foundations with conscious earthly lyrics, narratively progressing to a resistance against the establishment, Babylon.
It’s a marching riddim, dressed with a wonderful horn arrangement; a vocal and dub on side A, mixed by Matt from a studio in the Balkans, and an instrumental and dub on side B, mixed by Roots Unity in Amsterdam. The accompanying dubs roll with harmony, caressing horns, and melodica echoes akin to the great Augustus Pablo.
Herein lies the fashion with The Lions, their previous digital single releases of equal quality, Forward to the Sound, bashment funnelling up-tempo little treasure that it is, and Together Mighty, a wailing steppers riddim, lyrically connoting unity, these musical biscuits are dream plates for any rubber-dub selectors and would shake the foundations of any festival.
The Urban Lions state See Me Rise is the initial of a trilogy which will run as the soundtrack to a short animated fictional film in the future; now, this ambitious claim we need more info on as and when.
Until then, skank on Urban Lions, one love, and thank you for dubbing up my washing up chore! And to all you lot out there who don’t fancy getting your marigolds on and helping me with the task, buy See Me Rise to see for yourself, and be sure to catch them live. Locally, Pewesy’s Woodbridge Inn’s “Hopdog Fest,” on 5th-6th May sees them headline; well worth the effort I reckons.