Green Knuckle Material, the 4-piece rap-rock meets a sort of reggae sound band out of Bergen County, New Jersey has released their debut LP earlier this year entitled Back to Your Roots and if you’re looking for an exciting new local act that is as energetic and promising as it is unique and catchy, than look no further than GKM.
Back to Your Roots is an incredibly fun album filled with intoxicating choruses, and powerful, driving rhythms mixed with some respectable flow and rhymes throughout many of the verses. Nothing here is groundbreaking and the indie, DIY basement sound definitely is a little more prevalent than I think this type of music lends itself to, but all in all I found myself really enjoying this record.
Side Note: The band calls their fan group, “Knuckleheads”, and that very well may be my new favorite fandom name. O.K. back to the review.
Back To Your Roots Tracklist:
2. Life of Mike
3. Go That Way
5. Rebels on the Run
6. Wish You Well 02:45
7. Wake Up (Space) 02:49
8. New Jam 02:37
Back to Your Roots is a very rhythmic album and each track features some very infectious beats and groovy bass lines mixed with some cool syncopation patterns on guitar that Green Knuckle Material executes extremely well. Garcia’s rap flow is on point as well. My biggest gripe with the music as a whole, however, is that the actual lyrics to the songs, those rap verses especially, are very cliché and always fall flat for me. I don’t feel much emotion being conveyed during these rap parts so the somewhat bland lyrics stick out even more and it leaves a somewhat negative impression in my mind. Yet, through all of these parts I still found myself bobbing my head to the music, and I think that is a testament to the band’s precise and overwhelmingly fun sense of rhythm.
The biggest drawback for me throughout the entire album is the way it sounds. I’m pretty lenient and give local bands a fair bit of leeway when it comes to production value on their records, but when the actual production takes away from what the songs have the potential to be, then it needs to be addressed. Besides the low end being severely cut off, it seems the mids and highs have been boosted, and even listening through a good pair of headphones, I still felt many sounds piercing my ears. These piercing sounds also had a lot to do with the way the album was panned. I’m all for bands utilizing that stereo image and creating awesome soundscapes, but when an acoustic guitar or a lead vocal (among other things) is panned hard to one side or the other it loses a lot of value and can actually hurt the song.
Despite all of issues with Back to Your Roots I really did enjoy it overall and I definitely think it deserves a listen. I think some things could definitely be improved going forward for Green Knuckle Material’s recording process, but as a debut effort, there is an extremely solid set of songs here that made me feel good. My favorite track by far was “Rebels on the Run” which featured a female (guest?) vocalist on the choruses that really helped tie everything together in a way that I wanted so much more of on the record.
I’m interested to see what 2017 brings for the band and I cannot wait to catch a live performance from them! Check out their social media links below for more on Green Knuckle Material!