GreenStar's debut album, Processing The Earth, is a two-year effort that showcases the Missoula band's reggae-rock-funk tunes. It's a clean-sounding creation with above-average production from Club Shmed Studio. But the piercing clarity can be a double-edged sword, often exposing songs that are not quite ready for primetime. The reggae-led rock tunes "Past Is Dead" and "2 x 2" showcase the catchy vocals of singer Mike Bengala, which are akin to Sublime's Bradley Nowell. But, especially on "2 x 2," just as you get into the flow, the instrumentation—a hodgepodge of rapid electric guitar and funky basslines—barges in and muddies the mood.
The semi-acoustic track "Wasted" is the most enjoyable part of the album because the music works well with Bengala's vocal flow. It develops with soft acoustic chords building alongside the lyrics, which lead to a rocking power-chord climax that sounds crisp and complete. The group even adds an effective heavier rock edge to songs such as the powerful jam-metal anthem "I Want You."
GreenStar has talent—the vocals are sharp and on key, and sometimes the band captures the right balance between ska, reggae, rock and funk. Process the Earth is at its best when the band strips down the instrumental elements to a more focused groove. But the overall nod to Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit-style music feels a little late to the party.
GreenStar plays a CD release show at Sean Kelly's Fri., Nov. 15, at 10 PM with David Baty. Free.