With early origins rooted from the Philadelphia music scene, Irie Idea is a duo that now currently resides in Portland, Oregon. Nailing down a unique punk-influenced reggae sound, the group maintains their upbeat Rocksteady mentality, which shines with diversity and energy, especially on their latest full-length, Blues Like Sandpaper/Rocksteady Like Dirt.

What separates this disc from similar efforts is the way in which this duo instills a refreshing twist to their stylistic approach through crafting together an animated buzz to their exemplified ska and reggae esthetics.

Immediately in the introduction of “Soul Vender,” the complementary dynamic of vocalist and guitarist Curtis Irie and drummer Morgan Smith draws you in a with a grooving jubilant tone. Ironically enough, the name of this record pretty much speaks for itself within this opener. Embedded within the lyrics of this jamming track, the phrase, “Blues like sandpaper, Rocksteady like dirt,” sets the stage of what is in store for listeners. This foreshadowing line gives you a colorful sense of the musical variety that this album conveys.

Often compared to established groups like The Specials and RX Bandits, Irie Idea at times would include atmospheric arraignments into soothing singles like “Who,” “St. John’s Alley,” as well as the instrumental surf rock entity, “Hans Shoot First.” While Blues Like Sandpaper explores the fundamentals of blues as well, on “Portraits Of A Lady” and “Oregon Blues,” we are even delighted with the raw and exciting punk anthem “There Goes The Neighborhood” that sheds light on the band’s rebellious spirit.

It goes without saying that the innovative chemistry of Irie Idea definitely reflects this duo’s charismatic musicianship, which consistently branches beyond the realm of sticking to one specific genre. Because of Irie and Smith’s vibrant underground background, Blues Like Sandpaper/Rocksteady Like Dirt incorporates eccentric transitions of style for each song throughout.

In A Word: Grooving

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