Following a soft release of the single Knife Crime City, which gained support from BBC Radio 2, Echoes Magazine and others, Birmingham’s indie reggae fusiliers X.O.V.A. now release the single 9 Lives as a package that includes Bonus Tracks Are You Ready, their tribute to the Euro 2012 tournament and a superb G Corp dub of R Generation.
The track 9 Lives with its strident groove is an undeniable summer vibe which channels ska energies alongside guitar licks that can only begin to hint at the musicianship and songwriting talents within the band. Lyrically, the song acts as a confessional for lead vocalist Wayne Lawrence as he laments about the trials and tribulations that come about with love and other relationships.
Their prowess can also be heard in bonus track Are You Ready which was recorded for this summer’s Euro 2012 tournament and features a infectious chant-a-long chorus amidst raucous guitar chords that is destined to become a fan favourite. Third and final track is a superb dub mix of a firm favourite with X.O.V.A.’s live audience; R Generation by Birmingham’s G Corp (part of the original Electribe101 line-up). The release is marked by a string of gigs that see the band showcasing their unique sound in a live setting to which they are most accustomed to. Here they’ll show the crowd what they’re capable of, as former live audiences can attest to.
Light-hearted in comparison to former difficulties, from their history its clear X.O.V.A. are no strangers to conflict and tragedy – family illness, friends killed in war and the shooting of drummer Skins’ son have all left their mark. But sob stories don’t figure in this band’s attitude, instead, experience has afforded them a resilience and social conscience that shines through in the music and spurs on their involvement with anti-gang youth charity ‘LEAP’
With seven members spanning several decades in age, wildly varied backgrounds and raised on everything from Bhangra to The Beatles, X.O.V.A. were always going to defy convention and genre. Many bands fall apart due to ‘artistic differences’; but it is exactly that which the band uses to their advantage. As their name suggests, ‘crossing over’ is clearly no challenge to them and they’ll do everything in their power to make the transition to global success. Judging by their rate of overcoming obstacles, I wouldn’t bet against it.