Trio of Bedouin Soundclash blends punk, reggae



Matt Barnesphoto


Bedouin Soundclash plays the Commodore Ballroom on Monday and Tuesday.

At first listen, Bedouin Soundclash couldn’t sound less like ’80s punks Bad Brains.

But replace punk with pop, keep the reggae, throw bassist Darryl Jenifer behind the boards and recruit the Brains-loving Beastie Boys’ keyboardist Money Mark, and a pattern emerges.

“Bad Brains had a similar ethic,” said Bedouin’s singer-guitarist Jay Malinowski. “As a band always interested in something different, who’s not concerned with critical taste … (like them,) we also grew up with lot of ideas: punk, reggae, soul, and electronic (music).”

Bedouin’s tunes play out like multicultural beach barbecue music rather than the soundtrack to a riot. As a songwriter, Malinowski’s more attracted to the bounce of reggae and the harmony of soul than to punk’s aggression. However, Bedouin will be tapping the genre in a new project, where Soundclash plays versions of Brains tunes. “Darryl (Jenifer) is producing the whole thing, and we’re putting our spin on it,” said Malinowski. “I like a lot of punk music … (and) the future is unwritten, to quote Joe Strummer — maybe at some point (we’ll write our own punk songs).”

As for the Jamaican influence: like the Brains’ base of Washington D.C., Kingston, Ont., is hardly known for its palm trees. But that didn’t stop Malinowski, bassist Eon Sinclair and drummer Pat Pengelly from linking up to write reggae and dub-flecked pop tunes that draw on everything from ska to African rhythms. So does that all-inclusive approach capture the Canadian reggae crossover, like the blend of D.C. hardcore and the Clash’s reggae-punk did for the Brains?

“In terms of reggae interpretations in Canada, some of k-os’ songs are similar to us, and I think Kardinal Offishall too,” said Malinowski.

“In Toronto, I think it’s unconscious, but people are doing a lot there, and there’s a big West Indies population. (We could all) go to the U.K. and I think be recognized. It could be huge.”