There are few succeeding in the reggae rock business better than the Pepper boys. Fact. Touring and generating hits for over two decades, Pepper has cemented its name firmly in the industry, enough so that frontmen Kaleo Wassman and Bret Bollinger have had time to pursue their own side projects of late! Bret Bollinger & The Bad Habits may be a relatively new venture, yet what is vastly lost on Pepper fans is the fact that Kaleo Wassman teamed with sound-man Remy “Dub” DeRochement back in 2009 to create a two-man musical project entitled Sabotage Soundsystem. Then under Volcom Entertainment, Sabotage produced one single album, The Boto Machine Gun, before the collaboration was ultimately consumed by Pepper needs throughout the 2010s.
Luckily, 2020 deferred tour life to allow a long-overdue Sabotage sequel.
After 11 years, Sabotage is back! Indeed, Wassman (sans DeRochement this time) proffers a much more matured and polished sound. Reflective is the best way to describe the overall theme of Sabo 2, with comments towards vanity versus self-assuredness, standing up for moral values and how to move forward as a collective society versus all-encompassing egocentrism. Like we said, much more mature stuff… yet, lest we forget, this is still Wassman we’re talking about, so there’s still sex, drugs and days at the beach involved. The first track “Classic Town” is an instrumental welcome, fading out as casually as it had faded in. The subsequent track “Steppin’ Out” is not a cover of Steel Pulse‘s smash reggae hit, despite what you may think. You’re killing it on the song’s SEO front, though, Sabotage. Albeit original, the single does pay homage to roots reggae music, aka the foundation on which Wassman built his entire career. With the blanket statement “I’m gonna do what I came here to do”, with zero regard to rules and regulations, Wassman dismisses dwelling on the past as he describes his future objectives so evident and tangible. It’s this clarity of purpose that is most surprising, seeing as Wassman stands for revelry whenever possible. Seeing clear through the haze… perhaps that is a privilege earned over 20 years+ musicianship.
“Steppin’ Out” repeats twice more throughout the album as “Naughty Don Simulations”: the first “Steppin’ Out” (Naughty Don Simulation) being one of two lead singles off the LP and the final being a dub version with vocals. It’s so nice, you gotta have it thrice. More notable tracks include “I Won’t Close My Eyes” (about action over inaction when it comes to social injustice) and “The Whistle Song” (also a Naughty Don Simulation and the album’s second lead single). Yet, what peaked our interest most were songs of perspective stationed between signature ‘Pepper-esque’ party tracks. Take “All the Right Reasons”, for instance: is it a song about the cyclical struggle of addiction or is it simply the qualms of one’s ego as it ebbs and flows? Lyrics like “I never thought I’d see it again” and “I barely got away last time” — in conjunction with mentions of a “church” — makes it indecipherable if Wassman is alluding to salvation through self-actualization or a 12-step program. Another self-assessment comes in the form of “Move It On”, or life lessons of the male mindset as if Alanis Morissette‘s “One Hand In My Pocket” and “You Learn” were reimagined with testosterone. Another, more direct reimagining is Sabotage’s reggae cover of Eurythmics’ 90s dance anthem, “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)”. As mentioned before, this album perfectly balances perspective with partying; never a better pairing to end the summer of 2020. Speaking of, don’t forget to check out the Sabo Remix of Beebs‘ “Life Is Too Short” single!
Sabo 2 is now available on all digital outlets via LAW Records, as well as a free download! Wassman wanted to give back to his fans, especially in this time of financial turmoil, so download the full album for free via the links below.
Stream or download ‘Sabo 2’ album:
- Classic Town
- Steppin’ Out
- All the Right Reasons
- I Won’t Close My Eyes
- Move It On
- Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)
- Let It Begin
- Life Is Too Short (Sabo Remix)
- Stay (acoustic)
- Steppin’ Out (Naughty Don Simulation)
- The Whistle Song (Naughty Don Simulation)
- Let It Begin (instrumental)
- Steppin’ Out (Naughty Don Simulation) (Dub)
Disclaimer: All views presented in this album review are those of the reviewer and not necessarily those of Top Shelf Music.