Release Date: Jul 12, 2011
Record label: Fueled by Ramen Records
"Overall, 'Yours Truly' is a decent summer barbecue soundtrack, but hardly vintage Sublime." ‘Yours Truly’ originally arrived shrouded in controversy, with Sublime fans divided over the band’s decision to recruit young Rome Ramirez to fill the late Bradley Nowell’s shoes. Undoubtedly it boasts a few good tunes, with Rome proving himself a fine vocalist and guitarist on the adrenaline-fuelled ska of ‘My World’ and ‘Panic’. However, he can’t match Nowell’s knack for twisted humour and great storytelling that made the original Sublime so compelling, and at times the record veers uncomfortably close to bland Jack Johnson-esque territory (most notably on ‘PCH’).
After losing Bradley Nowell -- the face of Sublime -- the rest of the group retired the Sublime name for a good 13 years before recruiting Rome Ramirez. For Yours Truly, their first release together under the name Sublime with Rome, it’s wise that they play up the fact that this is a different band than the one that put out 40 oz. to Freedom. Ramirez doesn’t have nearly as much personality as Nowell, and for many, the former frontman was the essential ingredient.
Sublime's Bradley Nowell died of a drug overdose in 1996 just months before the breakthrough success of the band's self-titled album, robbing him of the chance to hear countless acoustic versions of Santeria performed by dreadlocked white boys on front porches. Fifteen years later, his former bandmates Eric Wilson and Bud Gaugh have rubbed salt in the wound by replacing the singer/guitarist with a 23-year-old sound-alike (the titular Rome Ramirez) and releasing an album that capitalizes on the band's position in the frat-rock pantheon - something Nowell never got to enjoy. It'd be one thing if the new trio built on the band's legacy.
It’s been 15 years since Sublime released a studio album, since the death of lead singer Bradley Nowell led to the implosion of the band right as they were finally hitting it big. After a lengthy hiatus, a few performances with new vocalist Rome Ramirez, and a legal kerfuffle with Nowell’s estate over the name, the regrouped Sublime With Rome is trying its hand at recording. The result, titled Yours Truly, is a series of sunshiny, reggae/ska jams that unfortunately lacks the bite that characterized Sublime’s best work.
The late, great Brad Nowell rocked out ska and spat hip-hop verses like few white guys ever have—and then passed away in his prime. In death, the reggae-schooled bro became the meathead’s Bob Marley. As Sublime With Rome proves, however, Nowell is irreplaceable. His former Sublime bandmates Bud Gaugh (drums) and Eric Wilson (bass) may claim they’re not trying to replace the singer by hiring 23-year-old superfan Rome Ramirez to front a new incarnation of the band—but, you’ll note, it’s not called the Long Beach Dub Allstars With Rome.