Mangoseed is a four-piece reggae/rock band from London, UK that is ready to release their debut album; Basquiat. The album features a whopping 15 tracks that cover a variety of different topics and genres. Mangoseed has toured with Manu Chao, Micki Free, and Alabama Three extensively. Do they effectively create their own musical vibe? Or does their sound simply replicate the influences drawn from?
As a note, this is the first in a sub-series of independent music reviews. If these are to your liking, feel free to leave a comment and let us know. These reviews will attempt to look at a specific album while still maintaining a look at all the work behind an artist. There will be no numbered scores, these people are committing their lives to a craft, which means that effort will not be compiled and simplified down to the likes of a number.
To begin with, Basquiat releases in a few weeks on May 22, however the album can be streamed from soundcloud for free. Frontman Nicholai La Barrie handles lead vocals, Sam Campbell heads drums and percussion, Karlos Coleman plays guitar and provides backup vocals and Richard Hardy gets down on the bass and also backup vocals. The synchronicity of the band lineup plays a critical role in maintaining a particular vibe and sticking to it committedly.
The band is not only familiar with supporting Grammy Award Winning bands, but also charity events. Both are possible for Mangoseed because the overall feel of Basquiat is something to dance to and enjoy, but also meditate on due to the messages conveyed.
Pulling influences from numerous times and bands, Mangoseed creates something hard to directly identify, but easy to enjoy. It is not fair to simply address Mangoseed as reggae rock because they also dabble with funk, ambience, rap, and more. Basquiat is loaded with different tempos, feelings, and breakdowns. With so much variety, listening to the whole album is enjoyable for many different reasons.
The first track on the album “Lioness” immedately establishes a unique vibe. The song sounds like it was influenced by Dio. “Lioness” says a number of things about Mangoseed right from the beginning. First of all, it is a bold move, starting with a track that sounds noticeably different from the rest of the album. It also shows that Mangoseed wants to start of with excitement, they want the listener to prepare for an album that can rock. Unfortunately, the genres explored in this track are less present in the rest of the album.
Mangoseed’s lyrics cover some surprisingly heavy content. It is true that the band enjoys dancing and appreciating the moment and the sun, but they also spend time exploring themes by other means. “I am free because I am not of the body.” To subtly convey such topics Mangoseed uses other means to deliver them to the listener, such techniques include echo, the introduction of female vocals, and in one of their videos they use cardboard to represent their instruments.
How exactly does a band manage to capture so many different genres and feelings? According to the band, “we pulled from all the genres that we love, all the artists and bands that have inspired us
and lead us to create music.” Taking influences and creating something vastly different is how music becomes independent; the beauty of being unique yet familiar. Mangoseed is built of four strong spirited individuals that are carrying their passion on their sleeve, such commitment is nothing less than admirable.
Overall, Mangoseed stands united as a band ready to share and love as one with the world and Basquiat demonstrates that. Their music has the potential to reach tons of music fans of various backgrounds. With such a powerful and promising debut album, Mangoseed has a bright future. Hopefully they continue to spread the influences of “Lioness” to future tracks. Listening to Mangoseed will likely remind the listener of multiple bands while maintaining a unique sound.