Oogee Wawa – More Sand than Money
To my knowledge, this is Oogee Wawa’s third release. After one thorough listen, it’s easy to why this New York based alternative band is opening for 311 and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. For a relatively young act they’ve got chops and experience at their command. Coincidentally, they sound a lot like 311 and the Bosstones, although it doesn’t hurt the overall score of their third release More Sand than Money. This quartet even has an MC (Jesse Lee) who rattles traps in much of the way that 311’s “SA” Martinez rocks the microphone. The sound here is highly melodic but edgy and aggressive when you least expect it. It has elegance and streets smarts, which makes for a muscular vibe from the first note to the last.
One of the band’s biggest strengths is their ability to combine electric and stripped down arrangements into a cohesive sound that’s part rock, part reggae and part ska. This hydra-headed musical attack makes the band experimental and straightforward in a single breathe. The rhythm section of Chad (bass/vocals) and drummer Nick adds perpetual motion and inventive fills by the bucketful in body shakin’ numbers like “Let It Out,” “Pretty” and the title cut. JP’s guitar is certainly a point of interest; his performance relying on sweeping, clean licks set to a lively ska/reggae rhythm while driving a few power-chord riffs home for good measure. These guys handle their vocals like The Beatles would by allowing each member to have input on the harmonies while Lee busts raps that are passionate and entertaining with a touch of profanity to interject a little vitriol into the engine (it’s never overdone in Fred Durst style though).
Momentum is maintained like an ocean wave with the attitudinal rock n’ roll bursts of “Jump Off” and “Regret” which have a dynamic punk-y showmanship revving under a hood that’s mostly of the psychedelic ska persuasion. JP’s 6 string is more forceful than usual on these pieces and the smoky smolder of “Damage Baggage.” The tribal, steely percussion of “Late Night is another unique highlight…sounding akin to Jimmy Buffett on a bad acid trip, whereas the positively sultry flamenco patterns on the acoustic guitar gives closer “Pack the Van” a totally disparate ideal when compared to the rest of the album’s tracks.
Elsewhere the album uses tried and true genre tropes on the twisted, corkscrew ska of “Feelin’ Alive Today,” “Tips” and “Badrinath.” The scorching guitar work of “97 Sh!t Storm” also scores big with elastic riffs unfolding into rocked out leads and sunset-drenched melodies, for an intricate blending of different styles. If anything doesn’t seem to fit at times it’s the rapping, MC vocals. At their best they can work up an almost rhythmic effect that drives the songs, but at their worst they seem to take away from the comely melodies the rest of the band provides with glee. They aren’t a breaking point for the record, but sometimes they deflect attention away from the instrumentation as well and it’s really the instrumentation that makes this record so infectious.
More Sand than Money might have a couple of flaws and problems to my own personal tastes, yet I can’t deny the fact that this is a good band with a lot of merit to their music. Even though this type of music isn’t quite my cup of tea, I still found myself hooked and at times playing some of the tracks several times in a row. I think that says a lot whenever you are enraptured by a band that plays outside of your comfort zone. Oogee Wawa is perfect music to wind down the summer of 2015 into a place of dangerous peace.
8 out of 10 stars