On The Move - Kiwi


There is no love lost between the love of my life and reggae. I can never get her out to a reggae show because in her words, “It sounds like the beer barrel polka over and over again.” I get where she’s coming from. We’ve both drank deeply from the global music Kool-Aid but when it comes to the one-drop you have to admit, there is danger of monotony. It’s waves on the beach in rhythm with the pulse of the planet; sometimes quicker, often slower, ultimately mellow – but in the end it is the beer barrel polka over and over. But, it’s what you do with it that makes reggae so inspiring. Latin America has long opened our ears to the potential when you fortify the reggae beat but remain true to the roots. Kiwi is a Jersey City band that continues the process. As Antibalas has done for afrobeat, The Slackers for ska, Debo Band for Ethiopian and so on, the New York/New Jersey cultural incubator continues reviving global music On The Move. Muy Greenwich Village meets Brazil, classically raised and folkloric singer/songwriter Alex Tea’s energies are infused in Kiwi’s music. His vibe is uplifting without the Rastafarian dogma. It’s English with no attempt at patois. It’s lyrically intriguing and it’s hooky as hell. One of reggae’s greatest contributions to the arrangement of the popular song is the interplay between guitar skank, clavinet, B3 and bass. I love that squelchy backline. A full-on 8 piece, Kiwi fills out the groove with a complete complement of horns and harmonies. On The Move moves from those reggae fundamentals through the verses to Beatlesque choruses, wanky solos, intricate horn punctuations and lots more. My early favorites include Burden and Change and Pirambu (featuring capoiera’s singular berimbau) a nod to Alex Tea’s many sojourns in Brazil.