Reggae-rock outfit Bumpin Uglies releases their EP, Live at Sugarshack Sessions Vol. 2, preparing the way for their next long player, slated to drop in September via Silverback Records.

Five of the six tracks on the EP are acoustic versions of originals, with the lone exception being a cover of Jason Isbell’s “Cover Me Up,” featuring frontman Brandon Hardesty on acoustic guitar and vocals, accompanied by Liz McBryde on violin.

More than a decade ago, Bumpin Uglies started making music, playing anywhere they could, including backyard parties, which reflected the band’s two-pronged philosophy of doing whatever was necessary to be successful and doing it their own way, without regard for critics or the mainstream music industry.

The EP begins with “Wild Girls,” opening on a punk-flavoured intro, followed by bright horns rolling into a mid-tempo reggae beat. Hardesty’s affluent tenor imbues the clever lyrics with tasty authenticity, narrating the veracity of heavyweight partying.

Highlights include “Serving,” riding a loose one-drop beat topped by skiffing guitars as creamy, glowing brass accents give the tune smooth, oozing coloration. While “Make It Through the Day” blends tints of rocksteady with pop-lite flavours, resulting in an upbeat, contagious, harmonic motion. A braying organ adds slick luminous textures.

“Cover Me Up” concludes the EP, delivering Americana-laced surfaces, simple yet oh so beautifully evocative. McBryde’s sad violin infuses the tune with despondent surfaces, permeating the melody with forlorn timbres and a poignant mood as Hardesty’s vocals reveal profound aching passion.

Bumpin Uglies in 2022, photo by Kyle Edwards
Bumpin Uglies in 2022, photo by Kyle Edwards

Hardesty explains, “‘Cover Me Up’ has been a favorite of mine since I first heard it, but it really became special to me when I sobered up a few years ago. I know Jason was newly sober when he wrote it, and to me, it feels like it’s a song about redemption. It’s a very special song to me and it makes me feel very deeply. I love to sing it.”

Combining the swanky appeal of reggae, tight one-drop rhythms, and lush horns, Live at Sugarshack Sessions Vol. 2 hits the sweet spot.

Live at Sugarshack Sessions Vol. 2 Track Listing:

1. Wild Girls
2. Lie To Me
3. Serving
4. Make It Through the Day
5. You Don’t Gotta Die
6. Cover Me Up

Run Time: 22:54
Release Date: April 21, 2023
Record Label: Sugarshack