The Hempsteadys out of New London, Connecticut are anything but your conventional reggae/ska band. With musical influences ranging from British punk to motown to big band to classic ska, the 11-piece conglomerate takes old style and manufactures it into new sound which is particularly evident on their debut LP El Amor De Los Muertos.
Literally translating into ‘A Love for the Dead’, the album tells a tale of woe and sorrow, of battle and triumph. In this day of one-track downloads and MTV-mind control, it is rare to find a band that has the courage to produce a concept album – let alone have it be their first one. From beginning to end, the LP is a horn-soaked freak-show of monsters and madmen, with one sole protagonist to take on the lot. In order for listeners to not get lost in the storyline, The Hempsteadys provide a narrator who introduces everyone to the album’s exposition: you are about to embark on a journey of “love and friendship and VIOLENCE”!
From beginning to end, the LP is a horn-soaked freak-show of monsters and madmen,
After being cordially welcomed into the “astral plane”, The Hempsteadys launch into track two – “Teen Wolf 2012”. The track illuminates a monster’s point of view: to continue living, there must be sacrifice. Even though the song refers to blood and “virgin sacrifice”, is it not true that everyone on this Earth has to make hard choices time and time again at the stake of others, throwing more than a few people under a bus to get ahead? Are we not also monsters masked as ordinary people? At this point, like in any play or movie, album listeners know they are well immersed within Act One of the Muertos narrative and patiently wait for that inevitable ‘hook’ that sparks the rising tension. The next song “Pharoah” contains this inciting incident, which happens (pretty conspicuously) at the end when the narrator reemerges to state that “my, my, my, how our story takes a turn…”
To hear what happens next in the saga, you’re going to have to listen to the album. The Hempsteadys provide not just action, but also reaction in several instrumental segments throughout the album in which the music furthers the plot line. With muted horns, big band style and a heavy bass, songs like “Bela Lugosi” stand out as if something resurrected out of the 1920s. All in all, this rocksteady opera is morbidly electrifying enough to demand a sequel.
Preview and download El Amor De Los Muertos on
El Amor De Los Muertos track listing
- The Wizards Manifesto
- Teen Wolf 2012
- What Do We Do Until The Drugs Kick In
- Black Belt Has a Posse
- Bela Lugosi’s Ghost
- Black Belt Has a Posse – Close Behind
- Long Drop Back
- Black Belt Has a Possee – No Place To Hide
- Black Belt Bones
- Charles Mutha F**K*N’ Big Blunt Bronson
- My Heart Is Yours
El Amor De Los Muertos
Released November 3, 2015
Disclaimer: All views presented in this album review are those of the reviewer and not necessarily those of Top Shelf Music.