"Red and White" kicks off Bushwood, the Fort Lauderdale band's self-titled debut album, with what can only be described as the sort of light funk endemic to 1970s porn films. Happily for both the band and the listener, the song is a microcosm of the album itself, picking up steam and improving in musicality throughout until it leaves on a high note. Recurring themes in this reggae-rock effort include women, weed and anything beach-related -- sun, ocean, sand and so on. But Bushwood isn't trying to change the world with these lyrics -- there's none of the political or social themes so prevalent in the songs of the roots-reggae artists from which the band draws some of its inspiration. No, Bushwood is more concerned with a hazy, blurred, sand-under-your-feet party than serious sociopolitical commentary, but hey, even a vicious political animal like Peter Tosh took plenty of time away from slinging brickbats at the shitstem to play ketchy shuby and legalize it. Still, by "Drop the Anchor" and "In Control," the fifth and sixth songs respectively, I couldn't help but yearn for something thematically other than the same sun-and-fun lines.
But within that limited range, the album improved song after song, closing with "Flomanja," a five-minute instrumental jam that goes from a bouncing, bubbly intro to a scorching guitar meltdown. Tellingly, with the absence of vocals, it's the best song on the album, which again suggests that a broadening of lyrical themes and an improvement in lyricism in general would do wonders for the band. At it's best, the group sounds like Sublime if you removed almost all of the punk influences and replaced them with even more reggae. At it's worst, it falls into light funk cliches that, as mentioned, are best suited to Debbie DoesDallas. But the good moments more than outweigh the bad, resulting in an album suitable for play over the PA system at beachside tiki bars everywhere.