LJX Two Chord Skankin'

With his debut album, Two Chord Skankin’, Toronto-based reggae singer/guitarist LJX has dropped one of the most satisfying reggae discs of the year so far. Lyndon John X brings fresh energy to roots reggae; his sound strongly recalls Steel Pulse at their peak, with a jazzy flow to his vocals intertwined with his lead guitar lines. He’s an excellent songwriter; his words are well chosen to match his vocal style, and he paints vivid pictures of timeless reggae subject matter such as dancing, oppression and love. "Strugglin’” speaks to the workaholic existence of an individual addicted to money, losing himself to drink, drugs and depression. This is far from a simple "believe in yourself” song, it wallows in discouragement, but the bass-heavy production accentuates the heaviness. The love songs don’t hit as hard as tunes like "I Don’t Need Nobody Killing Me” but they still maintain the strong flow of the album. The band, featuring former Lee Perry mainstay Ronnie "Bop” Williams, is heavy on an elastic guitar/bass/drum interplay barely leavened by the unobtrusive keyboards. This leaves room for more dub-wise mixing by Roger B., although the three instrumentals that close the disc would have benefited from a little more adventure on the mixing board. The two-chord skank comes as advertised, and these bright sounds are perfect for a June release. (Independent)