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Kona Gold

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Album Review

If there were any doubt remaining that ska revival outfit Pepper is a party band, it would be shattered by Kona Gold, a live album. Recording in Boulder, Colorado, the trio from Hawaii by way of Los Angeles plays most of the songs from its second album, Kona Town, with selected tunes from No Shame, Pink Crustaceans & Good Vibrations, and In with the Old. Frontman Kaleo Wassman has a special rapport with the crowd that consists of complimenting his listeners at every turn. He tells them they sing better than the band, and they respond by singing along on many of the songs. Wassman's ongoing commentary, which includes a shout-out to a friend incarcerated for marijuana possession and a vituperative attack on the VIP section, is freely laced with expletives; in fact, it's hard for him to get three words out of his mouth without one of them being a variation on the most popular four-letter word in the English language. For its part, the band runs through the basic reggae arrangements of the songs like a drinking man's Dispatch, much to the delight of the hard-partying audience. As far as Wassman is concerned, the results are exemplary; in fact, at one point he declares that the band will never play one of its songs again, having done it perfectly this time. Of course, for him, it's the audience that makes the show, and he demonstrates that it is not possible to pander to your listeners too much. Certainly, no one in Boulder is complaining, except perhaps the VIPs.


Formed: 1996 in Kona, HI

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Although Pepper's members are originally from Kona, Hawaii, the trio doesn't play traditional Hawaiian music. Rather, Pepper's music is a melodic and accessible blend of alternative pop/rock, punk, and reggae. Formed in 1996, Pepper is hardly the only alt-rock combo inspired by Jamaican sounds. But while other punk-minded alt-pop/rockers who emerged in the '90s were greatly influenced by either classic '60s ska or hardcore dancehall artists like Stitchie, Ninjaman, and Bounty Killer, Pepper usually...
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Kona Gold, Pepper
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