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Review: Ocean Alley’s EP ‘In Purple’

The boys from Ocean Alley have just released their second EP ‘In Purple’ and it’s a damn fine collection of their take on reggae and psych rock. From laid-back reggae jams to some powerful guitar shredding and elements of distortion, the group have nailed their between-genres sound.

The six-piece from Sydney’s Northern Beaches have been kicking around for a few years now, but after racking up five tours in 18 months and the release of ‘In Purple’, the group have finally announced they’ll be recording their first full length, to be laid down over the 2015/16 summer.

The EP ‘In Purple’ opens with Space Goat, a smooth track with some confident and sudden jumps in tempo, showing the group plan to take a different route down a path many have walked before. Their psych-rock heavy guitar riffs cut through the church organ keyboard refrain, and when a little dash of reverb is thrown in, it’s clear they want to take their reggae base to darker, deeper places.

Those Daze is a heavier, more psychedelic reggae/rock track, with guitar riffs Jimi Hendrix would be proud of and some fuzzy vocals crying lyrics like “wish you were giving me head / then I could sleep all day”. It’s a cheeky and up-beat song and one of the denser, more heavy-hitting tracks on the EP.

Daydreaming takes the energy back down a notch, playing around with tempo throughout the song in true reggae fashion. As the chorus kicks in though, with horns and a driving guitar riff, the track takes on a different personality, creating a fast-paced, densely layered rock sound. This track is up and down and up again before you have a moment to think, but it keeps you there for every turn in the rollercoaster.  

Baden Donegal’s lead vocals really come to the fore in Sleepwalking, another heavy reggae track with Jimi Hendrix-inspired guitar riffs and some rocking keyboard melodies layered over the top. The final minute of the song is a slow and steady build to a heady, smashing climax, which lead guitarist Angus Goodwin surely had a lot of fun with.

The final track on the EP is Twisted, a return to a purer reggae sound with the classic reggae guitar loop and melody-keeping trumpets holding the track together. But, showing they are never sticklers for genre, the track incorporates heavy drum beats and sliding rock guitar towards the end, finishing the EP off in their unique and heady take on psych rock infused reggae.

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