Keep It Civil EP Review
The Tallahassee reggae band Keep it Civil consists of childhood friends Kevin Olivera (lead vocals/ acoustic guitar), Owen Pratt (lead guitar), Tony Norwillo (percussion/rapper), and newly friended Tristian Jones (bass/ backup vocals). The band has been cranking out music since they formed and they haven’t looked back since. With the upcoming release of their first official EP, Keep it Civil is destined for great things. The EP is titled after its first track, “HSL,” which stands for Hobe Sound Local.
The band knew what they were doing when they titled the EP after its first track because “HSL” is definitely the single on the EP. All the songs are enjoyable but what I like about “HSL” is what I like about the EP as a whole. The song just oozes good vibes; it’s upbeat, and best of all it’s simple and enjoyable without trying to be something it’s not. The opening line of the song goes “My girlfriend don’t smoke pot and she barely even drinks; Lord you know it drives me crazy, she’s always tellin’ me I’m lazy.” I think it’s endearing of Keep it Civil to say it like it is; they’re a reggae band that smokes a lot of pot. If this is shocking to you, you may not be familiar with the genre. A lot of people might claim that talking about marijuana in their music cheapens it somehow, but I beg to differ. I would rather listen to a group of potheads serenade me than a group of liars; they smoke and they’re not afraid to sing about it, for that I commend them.
However, Keep it Civil is a multidimensional band and refuse to let something as insignificant as marijuana define them, they smoke and sing about it and that’s part of who they are but it’s not all of who they are. Some of the songs on the EP are about partying, beautiful women, and beaches. If you didn’t know Keep it Civil was from a college town, their lyrics could help you figure it out. Most of the songs on HSL are relatable to the twenty-somethings of America. This is a time between childhood and adulthood, a time where it’s easy to lose yourself to growing up, but Keep it Civil reminds its youthful listener to slow down and enjoy life, while it reminds the seasoned listener of good times had.
I really like the EP as a whole, it sounds a little like Pepper, a little like Sublime, and a little like The Dirty Heads. In reflection I am left wishing that Keep it Civil sounded more like Keep it Civil and less like their influences, but the band is still finding their sound and I think there are white hot flashes of pure originality found in the EP that I believe will shine brighter on the band’s next album.
Yet, the band does one thing exceptionally well on this EP that I’m sure they will do on the next, they sing the way they were born to sing. A lot of times, when reggae bands form with a white vocalist, there’s a false pressure for the vocalist to make an attempt to sound more exotic, and it never works. What this leaves the listener with is something that borders the line between awful and possibly racist. If you are a white kid from the suburbs don’t try to sound like a Jamaican from the Island; it doesn’t work. Keep it Civil went down the right road and chose to sing with the voices they were given. I love how clean all the vocals on the EP are, and the harmonies on track five, “Hobe Sound” are flawless.
If you’re a fan of upbeat honest music, you’ll be a fan of Keep it Civil’s first EP, HSL. This is one of those offerings that marks the start of something great. Keep it Civil is a relatively new band and they’re still finding their sound but they’ve done a pretty good job of identifying their sound for now. Pickup HSL on Soundcloud and let the good vibes takeover.