Better Days

The Devastators

70 minutes of original reggae music and dub in the vein of 70's era roots reggae. Real instruments and players, no programmed beats, drum machines, or pitch correction.

The Devastators second full-length studio album entitled "Better Days." The album features 15 tracks (over 70min!) of original material by the SD reggae four-piece. Fans of the bands debut album "Frontline" should appreciate the continuity with the new record. Like "Frontline" the album was recorded, mixed and mastered at Peaks and Valleys Studio by Alex Somerville. The services of percussionist Christian Mills were commissioned once again, as was graphic artwork by Rion of lefthandrightmind Creations. A host of other guest musicians make an appearance on the album including James McWhinney (Big Mountain), Elijah Emanuel (Elijah Emanuel & The Revelations), Professor Most, and the horn section of Andy Geib (Wise Monkey Orchestra), Bob Campbell (Big Mountain), and Jason Robinson (Groundation). Fans of 70's roots reggae will appreciate the passion these players have for their tone expressed by the use of live drum and bass and real hammond organ, acoustic piano, clavinet, fender rhodes, and melodica. Check out the audio samples!

The Devastators- “Better Days” Peaks and Valleys Productions, 2008 Review by Tom Orr

A solidly rockers-style drum and bass riddim kicks in, melodica and clavinet add tartness to the beat, sharp guitar stabs skank relentlessly and a singer cries out for solutions to society’s ills. Must be a classic Jamaican track from pre-dancehall days, eh? Nope. It’s the song that kicks off “Better Days”, the latest album from the San Diego-based quartet called the Devastators. And on this, the follow-up to their strong debut “Frontline,” they fulfill the promise of the title by expanding on the many good points of both that first disc and their skills as a band. “Better Days” racks up a 70-minute running time that gives the tracks ample expanse to groove and nothing but real instruments with which to do it. And these guys know how to fill the space without seeming like they’re just filling space. As on “Frontline,” lead guitar and keyboard riffs play off each other to give a funky, slightly rockish edge to the roots. Enhancements this time include more percussion in the mix and the welcome use of horns on three songs. Plus, lead singer/bassist Ivan Garzon has a more assured edge to his vocal style, laying into the songs with a combination of reggae, soul and pop inflections similar to Peter Morgan of Morgan Heritage. Bass-wise he’s absolutely on the mark, cementing a flawless foundation with drummer John Allen that allows guitarist Brian Keel and keys man Alex Somerville to get in some deftly dazzling licks along with the guest players who augment the foursome.

Once again the songs are a combination of consciousness (“Land of Woe,” “Light People”) and spirited observations on the fairer sex (“Why,” “Been a long Time”) that know when to get serious and when to just chuck it all and work your waistline. The Devastators handily devastate any possibility of a second album slump with this killer CD. (

The Devastators- “Better Days” Peaks and Valleys Productions, 2008 Review by

The Devastators' second album builds on the momentum of Frontline with perhaps a pinch more of consistency. Lead singer Ivan Garzon has a great, emotive voice -- unusually strong for reggae -- and the music is top-notch, reveling in a throwback roots sound and proudly proclaiming that no drum machines or pitch correction technology was utilized in its recording. Fans of Soldiers of Jah Army and John Brown's Body should definitely take heed to this mix of traditional roots with the accessibility of love songs like "Surrender," "Torture," "Why," and "Last Night." "Been a Long Time" is the only track that really steps outside the reggae genre with an R&B/jazz fusion sound. The lead-off tune, "Find a Way," is the highlight of Better Days; it's a classic in the making, a propulsive jam melding vintage guitar, organ, and melodica with a wicked melody and uplifting message. In fact, the first eight tracks all score, particularly the dark "Land of Woe," the churning title track, the seductive "Surrender" and the swaying groove "Light People" (although at first I thought they were singing "White People," which made me cock my head Scooby Doo-like). Five solid dubs round out the set, headed by "Dub Away," a surprisingly slinky, laid-back version of "Find a Way" that highlights the funky guitar, organ, and melodica mix. But don't believe me; listen for yourself at

The Devastators- “Better Days” Peaks and Valleys Productions, 2008 Review by Leslie Krouse/ Revolt In Style Magazine

You’ve heard one reggae CD, you’ve heard them all, right, not in this case. ‘Better Days’ features 15 tracks of original music, and has taken classic reggae ska rhythms, and instrumental percussions, then adds a fusion of roots reggae, with modern rock & jazz, that grooves conspicuously into the funky beat of this album. The smooth, sweet voice of Ivan Garzon, along with john, Alex, Brian, and the vast array of incredible talent, brought in to create this true work of reggae art. The title tract ‘Better Day’ is a perfect compilation of methodical lyrics, and pulsating instruments, to create this classic; I have to say this is probably my favorite. Well, then there’s ‘Been a Long Time’ seductive, feel good sound, and ‘Dub Away’ has a very cool hypnotic tempo, with the classic DUB sound, best listened to in an altered state of mind, if you know what I mean. Well, two thumbs up for these local guys, with sounds reminiscent of Steel Pulse, you can’t lose.

The Devastators- “Better Days” Peaks and Valleys Productions, 2008 Review by Todd Kroviak/ San Diego Citybeat

The best reggae acts usually stick to the basics—slow, steady roots rhythms, lots of echo and lyrics about political uprisings and sultry women. The Devastators understand this and, coupled with their superb musicianship, Better Days is about as good as slick, modern reggae can get. The dub tracks that close the album offer melodica that recalls the ghostly, syrupy sounds of Augustus Pablo

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