Kwame Binea – Kwame Binea Shakedown
This outstanding eight-piece assemblage of talent features the songwriting of front man Kwame Binea and one of the band’s two guitarists, Justin Wilcox. The remaining band may not garner songwriting credits but modern listeners will struggle to find such large collectives of musicians, in any genre, capable of delivering Kwame Binea Shakedown’s dramatic musical punch. The band’s debut, self-titled ep is a polished and passionate reminder that the fearlessness dividing entertainers from artists is clearer than ever before. Kwame Binea commands these four songs with his charismatic and intensely musical singing and the band matches him step for step with a bold fusion of styles.
The band and Binea go for a knockout blow at the start. “Let Go” is an earnest, pop-infused plea from a place of strength. There’s a positive tenor pervading much of Binea’s lyrical content, but he’s most memorable when testifying to the power of hope like he does here. It’s a foot stomping, adrenalin raising showstopper that sets a high bar for the remainder of the release. “Hang On”, however, matches it with power to burn. This is an exciting track steered in a much stronger rock and roll direction than the opener and Binea more than meets the music’s physical challenges. The guitar players are the album’s musical “stars”, of a sort, but the vibrant rhythm section is Kwame Binea Shakedown’s workhorse duo laying steadily explosive groundwork for every song.
“Little Lady” pops and percolates with the rhythms of urban life and sounds like an absolute live scorcher in the making. Binea’s songwriting is again top-notch and has a strongly observational quality. It’s impressive that while there’s no overt pop design to the song, “Little Lady” steams past the listener with such fiery energy that its instantly accessible. Binea’s entire album brims over with strong, adult-oriented fare full of rampaging energy and an open heart. Those qualities are probably nowhere more apparent than on the EP’s conclusion, “Waiting”. This veers from a pensive, reflective selection into moments of rousing light rock, but song construction is, ultimately, the reason for its success. Much like the opener, this was written clearly with the final slot in mind and closes the album perfectly.
Kwame Binea Shakedown hits from a hundred different angles. Despite its length, this far-reaching musical affair isn’t content with business as usual. There’s a sense that this band pulls out all of the stops with each outing and such a go-for-broke attitude infuses their songs with added urgency.
9 out of 10 stars