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L.A.B. - Album Review: L.A.B

12 Dec 2017 // A review by LoraThompson

Needless to say I have seen these boys play live and had long anticipated the release of the self-title album from L.A.B.

The band is an all-star line up with Brad and Stu Kora (Kora) and Ara Adams-Tamatea (Katchafire), and also fronted by none other than Joel Shadbolt (previously ofBatucada Sound Machine).

If those names already didn't give you an indication of the vibe, sound and calibre of the record, it was also co-produced by Dr Lee Prebble (Fly My Pretties and The Black Seeds), along with Brad Kora himself.

After gigging live and perfecting all of these songs over 3 years they have really refined them and worked hard on this record which really shows – they are not wrong when they say that this album 'wears it's influences unapologetically on it's sleeve' – in the next few paragraphs I think I will probably cover at least 10 genres – but that's seriously how this record felt – So diverse I really didn't know what was coming next, in yet it seemed to flow and every single track sparkled with a fresh and original vibe to it as well. 

The opening track She's Gone is a 7 minute long atmospheric epic jam, I definitely hear some Dire Straits, Funkadelic or Pink Floyd inspired licks there straight away – though as a guitarist/guitar nerd this album delivers in that way throughout all the tracks.

From track number two we kick into the singles, first up the catchy track Starry Eyes – a song about slaving and grinding and maybe a little bit of exploitation? - I can see why this track was chosen as a single due to its catchy dance beat and simple, effective structure. Also, they released it with a really cool animated lyric video .

Next up is Jimmy Boy, which is a strong reggae track with a massive sounding bass line. This track is the sound of NZ summer – made to be cranked through a big sound system.

At number 4, we have the most recent single Umulash – a new word to convey a pretty clear lyrical message. Brad's drum choice here is a beat with a huge kick sound and a snare that's almost industrial sounding, definitely bringing those vibes of early Kora. I loved the sound of this track straight away.

Towards the middle of the record they bust out the acoustic for some mellow jams on The Watchman , another progressive 5 minute track which builds into a guitar heavy jam with some more rock and soul vibes. I wish it sounded as heavy as I have heard it live, though there are some sneaky China's and guitar shreds coming in towards the end.

The next couple of tracks Oh No and Controller tell a story lyrically – while a little bit darker than some of the previous tracks, Oh No is a catchy classic NZ dub/reggae jam thats sure to take off.

I hadn't previously heard Controllerbefore and after doing this review I think its my new favorite track – its a really synth heavy - R&B ballad which really show cases Joel's vocal range which brings a little bit of a tear to the eye.

The next track, a crowd favorite Ain't No Use – Almost some George Clinton (parliament, Funkadelic) or Sly and the Family Stone vibes here. I would recommend this track to fans of 70's Funk/Soul. It's a simple track with a flawless mix.

They finish off the album with Love Will Save Me, Sweet Water (Which is obviously a longer version or a remix of the song they released as Starry Eyes - worth a listen), Oldman and Lonely Man ; the last two of which are both wicked guitar driven Blues-influenced tracks .

If we had stars on this site, I would give this album 5 out of 5 stars.

The band are on tour this summer, with some huge gigs coming up at Rhythm N Vines, Northern Bass, Out of the Blue Festival and Electric Avenue Festival as well as some Free gigs presented by LOOP and Corona Sunsets in Mount Manganui, Whitianga, Christchurch and New Plymouth among others. 

More info on tickets can be found via their Facebook Page.

Review written by Lora Thompson


About L.A.B.

The pedigree and musicianship of L.A.B. is undeniable.

L.A.B. was founded by the legendary Kora brothers Brad (drums) and Stu (guitar, keys) and quickly engaged the extraordinary talent of Joel Shadbolt on lead vocals & guitar and Ara Adams-Tamatea from the mighty Katchafire on bass.

The L.A.B. sound is one which has seen them quickly become a fan favourite on the New Zealand live circuit – trademark Kora grooves combining with Adams-Tamatea’s reggae/dub experience, and Shadbolt’s blues roots to create a sound entirely their own. Each member brings their own individual styles to the table, and the result is an eclectic mix of reggae, electronic, blues, funk, and reggae, even heading into country at points.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for L.A.B.


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