The Pot Hounds, by jointpop (Anarchy on the Avenue Records)
A new album from Trinidad’s leading rock and roll band, jointpop, always makes a huge splash in the small-but-furious indigenous rock music scene in Trinidad (even though they hardly ever provoke even a ripple in the playlists pond of Trinidadian rock radio). The Pot Hounds, jointpop’s sixth studio release, is every bit as big, musically, as — well, all of the others.
Though they no longer play exclusively what one perspicacious reviewer (me) called the “calypso rock” of their debut CD, Port of Spain Style (1999), it remains as true to say of The Pot Hounds as it was of Exile, Baby (2002) or The January Transfer Window (2007) that jointpop have not lost their roots — it’s just that those roots have travelled farther and wider, over the sixteen years the band has been built around the nucleus of singer-songwriter Gary Hector and lead guitarist Damon Homer. The Pot Hounds — the Trini street word for street dogs that usually get kicked, if they get noticed at all — is the third album on which drummer Dion Camacho, bassman Jerome Girdharrie, and keyboardist Phil Hill have played with Hector and Homer, and the closeness of the band is reflected in the playing. Camacho and Girdharrie lay down a foundation allowing room for Homer to stretch — some of his best solos are on this record — and for songwriter Hector to reach some of his most inventive vocal points, as in the phrasing on “Treat Me Like the Dog I Am”. You’ve got to hand it to anyone who can name one song “Dead Frog Perfume” and another “My Sexy Garbage Can”. The most memorable line on the album, “Money won’t get you to Heaven / But you sure see Hell without it” — which deserves to be up there with “Life is hard / And then you die” — is channelled directly from one of Port of Spain’s most charming street characters, Edmund Hay, the late Christian Soldier, who patrolled the car park of the Pelican, Port of Spain’s best bar for all the time it was open. Uninformed critics may prattle about where jointpop’s pot hound music has now reached, but it remains as firmly rooted as it always has been in the place it comes from.
Soca singles roundup
Differentology, by Bunji Garlin
Once again Bunji proves why he remains relevant in the local soca landscape. This track, an unapologetic intoxicating J’Ouvert jam, is written by the singer, with backing vocals by Trini rocker Nigel Rojas of Orange Sky (who also plays the Spanish guitar). It certainly puts the lyrical master in a league of his own. Garlin’s imagery is such that if you’ve never done Trinidad Carnival, you’d be moved to. Long after Carnival is over, “Differentology” will prove it has staying power. Produced by Sheriff Music/J-Rod Records at Black Ice Studios.
No Getaway, by Blaxx
He can easily be described as party central. Like a ball of energy, Blaxx never fails to make listeners move — even if it’s a big toe! He runs true to form on his 2013 release “No Getaway” — in the role of a hunter on Carnival day searching for prey: a woman to wine on. Blaxx is serious too — “no woman in de band no get away,” says the song’s hook. Catchy with level danceability. Produced by Peter Coppin.
Bubble, by Iwer George
When this song was released and made the rounds on Facebook, people laughed and didn’t take it seriously. Now those same people have joined the chorus. In “Bubble”, the self-proclaimed big man in the business explains to fans just what soca singers do after Carnival: “Machel selling rum and Iwer selling boatride, Bunji selling clothes and Iwer selling boatride,” is the hook.