Pepper Album Review
Sometime in 1997 guitarist/vocalist Kaleo Wassman, vocalist/bassist Bret Bollinger, and drummer Yesod Williams started jammin’ together in their small hometown of Kailua Kona, Hawaii. Lucky for listeners, the trio has been making music together ever since. Pepper was born out of greatness and good vibes that day, and since has released five albums, with the release of their self-titled album on July 16th, 2012, marking their sixth installment.
A lot of bands that stick together for as long as Pepper has, end up tweaking their musical style as the band evolves and grows. The problem with this for most bands is that, as they change their style, hardcore fans are left feeling betrayed. Often times, as bands produce different sounding music, fans that were listening from the beginning are left longing for new music, from the band they once knew, the band that first grabbed their attention and made them a fan in the first place. On the other hand, as bands evolve they are also opening the doors to an entirely new audience. In this way, as long as a band is making good music, they will retain a fan base, even if it’s not the same fan base they we’re aiming for when they first started playing music together.
However, Pepper is not like most bands. The trio has accomplished something nearly impossible with their new self-titled album. The album is so many things that the old albums just weren’t, while retaining all the best parts of the classic Pepper style. If the older Pepper albums were good, the newest installment is great. They have tweaked their musical style but certainly have not forgotten their roots. At the end of the day Pepper has always been about groovy melodies and good vibes; and that will never change. Some of the songs on the album, like “Hunny Girl,” are a little more “poppy” than any previous Pepper songs, while other songs just sound more clean than what you would expect from Pepper. Yet, even with these stylistic tweaks, listeners can’t help but feel the sand between their toes as they tap their feet to the groovy island sounds. This is what makes Pepper’s new album so great; it’s so hard to call it “different” when you can just call it “better”.
The new album was produced by Matt Wallace, a producer who has worked with bands like Maroon 5 and O.A.R.. Choosing Wallace to produce the album may have been one of the trio’s best moves ever. Not only does the album sound as crisp as any Pepper album ever has but Wallace also helped guide the band through the spiritual journey that is creating an album. The band members even compared their experience with Wallace to their own version of college. Yesod says that Wallace really helped the band “focus on the art of songwriting” and he showed the guys that “it’s important what you do play as well as what you don’t play, creating both spaces in the songs”. I believe it is this very sentiment that helped the band find their new and improved sound.
When all is said and done, Pepper’s new self-titled album is a triumphant success. I must have listened to the album 420 times and I still can’t get enough of it. I urge fans of good music everywhere to give the new album a listen; it doesn’t matter if you’re a diehard Pepper fan or a Pepper virgin; you will not be disappointed.
(Editor: Joey Farese is a talented writer from Tallahassee. Follow him on Twitter, then follow us as well, as we continue to build Florida’s community of Rock And Roll Animals)