CD Review: The Hempsteadys - The Beat That Moves Hempstead Street

CD Review by Adam Wujtewicz

Punk rock reggae enthusiasts rejoice... The Hempsteadys are releasing their debut EP.  It's been a long time in the making but when you have something like 6 million and 30 band members... booking studio time is difficult.  Well the wait is over and it was worth it.

Knowing their punk rock tendencies, The Beat That Moves Hempstead Street has surprisingly clean and polished production.  All the instruments are separated and panned and you can hear them all.  This is welcome change from the mush of sound you can sometimes get from 3 guitars playing at the same time, which this band often has live.  The dynamics show through with this kind of production so that you don’t lose the ups and downs of songs like "Bad Government".  With Isaac's vocals being as gruff and forceful as they are, this song could beat you over the head verse after verse... but it's not until 2/3 of the way through the song when the band builds to match his intensity then fades out at end of the song.  The "quiet-loud-quiet" dynamic of "She Only Loves Me When She’s Drunk" is something you wouldn't expect from a band labeled as a "party band" but the huge choruses with heavy guitar strumming and skankable bass line reminds you why they got that label.

The dynamics and production are all well and good but for my money, the best part of this EP is "Judas Priest".  What this song lacks in ups and downs it makes up for with raucous wall of sound that the rest of the EP doesn't showcase but their live shows are known for. This song is full tilt from beginning to end and is still sounds clean throughout.  The crack of Matt Covey's snare drum makes this song jump, then the steady thud of the kick brings it back to the floor.

The Beat That Moves Hempstead Street is everything you'd expect from a Hempsteadys EP but with more thought put into it than some may give it credit for.  These guys have done their homework within the genre often dubbed "dirty reggae" and deserve more credit than being labeled as just a "party band".