Iowa Alumni Magazine | December 2006 | Reviews

What's Going Down by Public Property

By Shelbi Thomas

Featuring Dave Bess, 04BA; Pat Jensen; Matt Grundstad, 04BA; Mareva Minerbi, 06BFA; Georgette Stern, 03BSE; Margaret Larson, 04BBA; Eric Quiner, 05BA; Adam Grosso, 03MA; and Ryan Jeter

Iowa City is located nearly 2,000 miles from the reggae motherland of Jamaica, but you'd never know that listening to Public Property. The local band carries on Bob Marley's musical tradition, blending social messages with laidback party songs on its sophomore release What's Goin' Down.

Public Property produces a full, smooth, and polished sound, enriched by backup singers Mareva Minerbi, Georgette Stern, and Margaret Larson. The trio's harmonization is on par with Marley's I-Threes, whether it's adding pizzazz to the catchy and upbeat "Power Trip" or providing honey-sweet vocals for the wistfully romantic "I Wonder."

The band fuses together assorted musical styles, such as ska, hip-hop, dub, and soca, to produce an authentic yet one-of-a-kind reggae record. Lead singer and songwriter Dave Bess credits his Hawaiian upbringing for introducing him to groups like the Toots and the Maytals, Otis Redding, Jimmy Cliff, and the Roots, whose influences can be heard on the album.

True to its 1960s Jamaican roots, Public Property's reggae tackles a range of hefty issues including war, poverty, religion, government corruption, and world peace. The album doesn't take itself too seriously, though, containing an equal number of tracks that capture the tranquil spirit of Marley's Jamaica.