Sunday Feb 25
Review: SOJA – Amid The Noise & Haste

SOJA – Amid The Noise and Haste
Track Listing:
1.) Tear It Down
2.) Your Song (featuring Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley)
3.) I Believe (featuring Michael Franti and Nahko)
4.) Easier (featuring Anuhea and J. Boog)
5.) Shadow (featuring Trevor Young of SOJA)
6.) Once Upon A Time
7.) Promises and Pills (featuring Alfred the MC)
8.) Signature
9.) She Still Loves Me (featuring Collie Buddz)
10.) Wait
11.) Better
12.) Treading Water
13.) Lucid Dreams (featuring Nahko)
14.) Driving Faster (Featuring Bobby Lee)
15.) Talking to Myself
16.) Translation of One
17.) Like It Used To (Featuring Mala Rodriguez)

The Pier Album Rating:

Release Date: August 12, 2014
Record Label: ATO Records
Official Website: SOJA Website

Group Background:
SOJA needs little introduction to the Pier’s audience, but here’s a quick rundown nonetheless. The eight-piece reggae rock band formed in the late 1990’s and has steadily climbed its way to the top of the genre. SOJA has toured the world several times over, attracting a huge international fan base along the way. The band has shared the stage with music powerhouses like Dave Matthews Band and 311, and has performed at nearly every major festival. Produced by Supa Dups, SOJA’s 2014 release, Amid the Noise and Haste, is the bands sixth studio album!

Album Review:
In many ways, SOJA stayed true to their formula on Amid the Noise and Haste. Let’s see, two parts passionate, social commentary. Check. Familiar reggae melodies; got that too. But, this time they added a couple new ingredients to the formula — an impressive group of collaborators and a “boomier” sound. The collaborators added significantly to several of the songs; and, on a handful of tunes, they, along with a bass-filled sound, pushed SOJA towards the radio-listening world.

The strength of Amid the Noise and Haste is the collaborators and SOJA assembled an all-star lineup. Six of the albums thirteen songs feature collaborators. The album includes Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley, Hawaiians J Boog and Anuhea, Collie Buddz, Michael Franti, Nahko and Alfred the MC. Bassist Bobby Lee returns with vocals on the track “Driving Faster” which should please fans who missed his vocals on their 2012 release of Strength to Survive.

It’s common knowledge that if you want to make a song better, add Damian Marley and you’re good to go — which is exactly what SOJA did with “Your Song”. The radio-friendly track is dedicated to fans who are asked to remind the band why they got into music.

Collie Buddz takes up a verse and adds intermittent vocals on the love lost, love won song, “She Still Loves Me”. The song is relatable, with a chorus and melody that gets stuck in the listeners head. Vocalist, Jacob Hemphill’s self-empowerment message runs throughout the album, but is most evident on the track “I Believe”. The collaboration with Michael Franti and Nahko makes the song one of the albums strongest, as Franti lends his trademark vocals and upbeat, radio-friendly style.

Amid the Noise and Haste is another strong showing by rock-reggae royalty, SOJA. The album is what fans expect from SOJA — socially conscience lyrics and familiar reggae sounds. But, Amid the Noise and Haste includes a couple nice twists. The inclusion of so many great collaborators and a bass-filled sound, not only helped create a strong album, it also nudged SOJA towards a more radio friendly sound — at least, on a handful of tunes.

Written & Reviewed By: Kit Chalberg

[Editors Note: All reviews are reflective of the album in it’s entirety, from start to finish. These reviews are the honest opinion of each writer/reviewer, expressing their feedback as a genuine fan of the music. Each star rating reflects their review of the album, not the band. Music is subjective. Regardless of the review or star rating, we encourage you to listen to the music yourself & form your own opinion. Spread the awareness of all music in its art & contribution]

13 Responses to Review: SOJA – Amid The Noise & Haste

  1. Let Down says:

    I’d respectfully disagree that this album is what SOJA fans expect. To be fair, it does seem to be a continuation of the direction that began with Strength to Survive. SOJA has been my favorite band for several years. They built a following with Peace in a Time of War, Get Wiser, and even Born in Babylon – edgy albums with strong reggae riffs. This album is over-produced and really really soft…surprisingly, even Bobby Lee’s track. Good to hear him again, though, since he was missing from the last album. If Strength to Survive was a slight misstep down the wrong path, Amid the Noise and Haste is a running long jump down the same. Still a fan, just one that won’t be buying this album and optimistically looks forward to the next one in a year or two.

    I was anxiously awaiting this review to see how thePier called it. I get that the reviews are subjective, but it is hard to justify how this album can be given the same amount of stars as Tribal Seeds’ new release, which is nearly flawless. To be a bit subjective myself (and speculative) I’d review this review as “treading lightly”.

    • OGMP760 says:

      Hey “Let Down”,

      Mike here w/The Pier. I appreciate your response & perspective – Let me clarify that each review is subjective and the simple justification is the person who reviewed the SOJA album is a completely different person that reviewed the Tribal Seeds album. Both reviews are housed under The Pier, but under the opinion of 2 different people who listened to the music tirelessly to form their reflection. Both albums can be 4 stars for completely different reasons. We do-not tread lightly in our honest opinions of any album! If the album is great to the writer, he’ll write it as such and the same goes for if he doesn’t like it. We don’t respect any bands that don’t respect our honest reflection as fans and we don’t sugar coat our opinions of an album – Sugar Coating serves no one except maybe the publicist. We cover these bands every day of the year and we pride ourselves in our honest reflection, regardless of who agrees. Our goal is to keep the discussion of the music going. We’re not bound to any band, regardless of how big their following/network is. This was just our honest reflection. If we gave it a 2 star, we’d have 20 comments from die-hard SOJA fans of how we don’t know anything about SOJA or Reggae – and maybe the band wouldn’t grant us an interview or show-access as a result (which has happened before with OTHER bands) – We just have to take the good with the bad. This review is no different in that Kit felt it was a great release based on what he heard & his experience in the music industry the last 10+ years!

      Keep the perspective going – we respect your honest opinion and as fans, we’re absolutely entitled to an honest opinion without fear of the bands resentment or disapproval if we happened to be disappointed.

      • Let Down says:

        Mike, solid reply, and thanks for taking the time to write it. Much respect to the Pier and all that contribute to it, including Kit for his review.

    • Ben says:

      Completely agree with you man. SOJA have completely moved away from their powerful roots reggae and strong rasta vibes that made them easily one of my favorite reggae bands. I believe they are moving entirely in the wrong direction musically, and sadly are leading a movement to dilute reggae to radio friendly pop songs. Hopefully other bands in the same genre do not follow in their path. They might as well cut off their dreads because they are not the same great, militant, passionate, and rasta group they once were.

  2. Garritos says:

    Interesting that this album was reviewed without the final 4 songs. I think my favorite has to be “tear it down”. Maybe because they have been playing it for the last year on tour? Nice to see Bobby Lee get a song on this album, only wish it was a little more high energy.

    to the previous comment, I wouldn’t hold your breath on the next album being more rootsey. SOJA has a stated mission to take the message to the masses and radio friendly albums are going to be here to stay (ATO wants to sell albums also). Roots reggae will never be mainstream unfortunately. I enjoyed the new Tribal Seeds album immensely but I think this got 4 stars for different reasons.

  3. Brax says:


  4. willdub says:

    A “boomier” sound?? Are you kidding me? No mention of SOJA moving away from their roots reggae sound to more of a pop sound (not saying this is necessarily a bad thing)? Or the auto tune present on some of tracks? It was so painfully obvious, how can it not be mentioned!? Yikes.

    • Herbboy says:

      Definitely agree with your comment. I am not real fond of the auto tune on the tracks, but I think it is overall a really good album. I think if you have been to a live show of theirs, you might have noticed that Jacobs vocals are not always very on point…I think he is an amazing songwriter, and the music speaks for itself, however, I have seen them live a number of times, and his vocals are sometimes painful to hear. I think that is where the auto tune comes in to help him..whether that is a bad thing or not, that is up to you to decide…

  5. Joe B says:

    I have loved following SOJA since peace in a time of war – and I have to agree with the first poster! The new album is too commercial!! All being said, listen to Hawaii 2006 – listen to what Jacob said about the message and direction of their music. It definately wasnt to sell out like they have, to the extent they have on the new album. They have millions of fans all over the world – why do they feel they need to be in the middle ground all the time? Not to say that some tracks arent better than others. Even the Damian Marley tune aint as accomplished as it could have been!! Wheres the feeling, the emotion, the motivational air they used to give off??

    • kevinf says:

      Hey Joe, you brought up the hawaii dvd and the impression i got from it was that you could change the music but it’s the message that’s important. i think the message is still strong on a bunch of the songs on amid the noise and haste. tear it down, promises and pills, translation of one, signature, shadow, all have pretty awesome messages. and people are complaining about the sound changing, but then you go to rebelution’s review and it’s about the sound not changing. i miss the roots reggae sound from get wiser and peace in a time of war but as long as the message is the same i’ll be listening.

  6. Rich says:

    The vibe I get from a lot of these comments is something I see a lot as bands progress. I think all of you SOJA nay Sayers should watch the 3 part interview Jacob does with boomshots. I personally haven’t been able to stop listening to the album but that’s just me because I appreciate progress of knowledge. Maybe the objective wasn’t to sell out but to get the word spread further. The music may not be full on roots but the message is Roots and if your missing that your not listening

  7. Manail says:

    It just sucks. I mean, where did the band go? I loved the bass tone and lines from previous albums. The wind instruments gone too, hardly noticed.

    Too bad since I discovered a few months ago and i was hoping for a good new reggae album.

  8. JOsa says:

    Nice album really enjoyable

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