Oogee Wawa – More Sand than Money

URL: http://oogeewawa.com/

Following the tradition of the white boy reggae/rap/ska/alternative style, Oogee Wawa brings a sonic shakedown that calls to mind 311, the Beastie Boy, Sublime and The Madness. More Sand than Money is a perfect album to drink liquor and chase girls too. Even within the limiting framework in which they operate, Oogee Wawa still musters up enough freshness to keep them sounding just enough like their peers that you can identify a few points of reference while not wholeheartedly mistaking them for artists from the past.

The quartet hops around a decent number of genres refusing to be pigeonholed on this record, their third after a prior full-length and an EP. This lot tours relentlessly and the hard work translates well to the recording studio, where their music shines with a decently slick production and the requisite rawness needed for an underground group. They bring a bit of pop punk distortion to the margarita rich reggae grooves displayed on “Let It Out.” A variety of vocal interplay keeps everything interesting on this track and everyone thereafter; MC Jesse Lee providing a barking rhyming lead to the band’s almost Beach Boys-esque harmonies. JP drops both stark, rock-ready guitar lines and trippy ska magic, while the tempered rhythm section locks into place on a lively boogie. More of the same is provided on “Pretty,” a song that boasts an even bigger bag of soul, especially on its catchy flu of a chorus. The title composition leavens up on the octane for a dusky, dune riding jam that is more inebriating and less aggro than the album’s opening duo.

In fact the album rarely restrains itself for the first eight tracks. “Jump Off” leads in with one of the album’s best riffs; sounding like a combination of heatstroke and heaven as JP’s electric guitar practically cries out an unforgettable melody in the throes of passionate love-making. The drums propel themselves into jazzy fills and the bottom end provided by Chad is deeper than a coral reef. It runs directly into “Regrets” which could pass for a Madness track lost in the tropics, as it’s filled to the brim with plenty of 80s flavored ska bump n’ grind, with the same being said for the more slowed-down “Damage Baggage” and the 65 mph hour, pedal to the mettle of “Feelin’ Alive Today.” Electric riffage returns with a vengeance on “97 Sh!t Storm,” another beast that’s practically driven by the lead playing of JP. “Tips” also has a helluva lot of turbulent shuffling going on with the rhythm section dominating and the guitars providing melodic contrasts throughout.

The album isn’t without its missteps though and the last trio of tracks trade the rock n’ roll for somber, mundanely penned balladry that is too clichéd for its own good. “Badrinath” dumbs down the mood for a soft component that never rises above sea level. Acoustic guitars were a smart idea on “Late Night,” yet the jamming never equates to the sum of its parts. Closer “Pack the Van,” an obvious tribute to the band’s vehicle of choice (the adorably named van Margaret the Snatcher) boosts things up a bit but doesn’t feel as strongly crafted or memorable as the album’s earlier treasures.

More Sand than Money is delightfully above average, a few rickety steps on the bridge not withstanding; the suave n’ smooth rap n’ soul that washes over Oogee Wawa’s infectious ska is a sight to behold. If they tighten up the writing on the next record, hopefully they can avoid the late game stall that yields this disc a lazy finish. Thankfully, the good greatly outweighs the average and the final result is rich in texture and feel. This is smarter than the average bear party music that any fan of the style should be able to enjoy.

PURCHASE LINK: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/oogee-wawa/id439240335

Stephen Bailey

8 out of 10 stars.