The Specs

Declaration of Independence – (c) 2005 The Specs New Jersey's The Specs (formerly The Superspecs) are a 6 piece band out of the North side of the state. "Declaration of Independece" is a plus sized EP featuring 6 full length tracks and 2 musical preamble/interlude parts. The songs are an eclectic mix of pop, punk and bits of emo. Track 3 (Good Luck (This Time)) has a striking reminiscence to the song writing style of Less Than Jake, albeit minus the horns. Not that The Specs are completely lacking in horns, but on Declaration of Independence, it appears they like to more strongly feature them in intro pieces. An amusing cover of "Straight Up" is also included. Kudos to the specs for a unique EP that shows that you can have a likeable sound without being a cookie cutter.http://www.specsrock.comJerry Actually   

Umbrella Bed – One Small Skank For Man

© 2005 Mad Butcher Records

one-small-skank-for-manUmbrella Bed brings me back to the glory days of the third wave harkening the likes of Undercover SKA and Mock Turtle Soup. The unusually named Minnesota ska outfit plays a handsome blend of ska with soul with a klezmer touch. Oddly for an American band, they have a strangely European sound…go figure.

Bottom line: extremely likeable and very danceable.

http://www.umbrellabed.com
http://www.madbutcher.de

-Jerry Actually

Skannibal Party 5

Various Artists – Skannibal Party 5 © 2005 Mad Butcher RecordsSkannibal Party 5 is an awsome collection of ska from around the globe. Featuring 22 tracks from exotic locales from Russia (Skapel) to Venezuela (Desorden Publico) to Utah (Two and A Half White Guys). Compilations like this help to open eyes to the similarities of people around the world instead of fearing and attacking them because of thier differences. It gives me great comfort to know that kids in Argentina are skanking to Dulces Diablitos and Papas Ni Pidamos Meanwhile halfway around the world other kids are dancin' it up in Serbia with Los Propelleros. Thank the world for ska. Go get this comp and celebrate diversity in knowing that the world over, there are people just like you.http://www.madbutcher.de-Jerry Actually

Instant Camera

Instant Camera – Alive On Departure (c) 2004 Wall To Wall RecordsInstant camera is another surprise from the south. Hailing from the cultural center of Louisville, KY, "Alive On Departure" is a swirling cosmic blend of New Wave Pop and LoFi Noise Rock. I will liken it to a blend of Voivod, eraly Floyd and Art of Noise. Instant Camera has an interesting sound that defies categorization. Just when the songs start to lock into a defineable sound, they shift gears and head off in a new direction. 10 short tracks at just over 30 minutes total. "Alive On Departure" try it on for size. I think it'll fit.www.theinstantcamera.comJerry Actually

The Slackers – Peculiar

© 2006 Hellcat Records
Rating: ★★★★☆

It seems like quite a long time ago when I was shipped my first Slackers CD to review. It in fact was almost 8 years ago. I’m happy to report that I’ve got the new Slackers CD in my hot little hands. (It is actually in my CD player, as I felt it a more appropriate place.) I’ll be updating this review as I have the time, but for the moment, let’s just say the CD has some power.

With style grace and persistence, The Slackers are the heart soul and backbone of the New York ska scene. Peculiar is an exceptional release of the genre. To capture the intensity of their live shows, the band went to the legendary Ernesto's in Holland to cut the core of the tracks in front of a packed live audience. After recording all the new "live" tracks the band went back to the studio and stripped the rhythm tracks and performed vocals and horns and added guest assistance by contemporaries like Alex Desert of Hepcat and Jeff "King Django" Baker.

I commend the Slackers for their innovative approach to the new album. The combination of live energy and studio polish brings a whole new level to the life of the record. Adding to the intensity of "Peculiar" is the socially and politically aware vibe, much akin to the voice of dissent found in the reggae of the 70's.

Songs like Propaganda and International War Criminal decry current political scandal and portray the discomfort and discontent with the current management if you will. "Peculiar" is a brilliant blend of ska reggae and rocksteady raising a voice of concern to the current state of affairs.

Don't let me misguide you though; the album isn't entirely political so much that is an assessment of life, a bit of a State of Life Address. "Peculiar" brings hope for the true ska fans and fans of great music everywhere that not all hope is lost.

http://www.hell-cat.com
http://www.theslackers.com

–Jerry Actually

The Phlegms

The Phlegms – S/T © 2005 The PhlegmsFuck Yeah! I love The Phlegms!Snotty Upbeat Euro-Ramones style good time punk rock. This self-produced CD is really quite a treat. I'm sorry that I haven't had the chance to review it sooner. Based out of Bangor, Gwynedd (That is on the other side of the pond for my American audience) The Phlegms started came to be in October of 2004 – most bands should be so great to put this kind of raw energy together in such a short amount of time.At any rate, The Phlegms are a 3 piece with influences such as The Clash, The Ramones, NOFX, Dropkick Murphy's and other. The songs (as you may know) are how I like 'em, really flippin' short. Basically The Phlegms offer good fun fast short old school 3 chord punk.With any luck The Phlegms will get some label attention and get a bonified release out to the world and follwing that a world tour. (though I'll settle for a San Diego tour) Go Get your self some beers and rock the hell out with The Phlegmswww.thephlegms.comFree Phlegms Downloads-Jerry Actually

Boundary

Boundary – Out of Bounds EP 2005 BoundaryHailing from the far east bay land of Antioch, Boundary is self-proclaimed 4/5 straight-edge and 3/5 vegetarian, which by my count makes them 1 2/5 jesus lovin’ hippies. Ha! just kidding. Boundary knocks out 7 tracks in my prefered hardcore style: short, fast, aggressive and articulate.The sound is very classic hardcore punk with chugging power chord riffs and thundering bass. I didn’t get the lowdown on the production of the CD as I got a computer copy, but if this is a home studio DIY recording, Kudos to whomever was behind the console.Though I can’t contend that a whole lot of new ground is being broken here, the messages in the songs are solid; don’t fuck your life up and don’t try to fuck up mine. To each his own indeed. The angst of youth can easily spoil into a life of bitterness. Make something of it while you have the time.Bottom line: short, to the point, punk rockwww.myspace.com/boundaryhcJerry Actually

Priapism

Priapism – Last Stand (EP) 2005 1332 RecordsWith intensity and urgency Priapism’s Last Stand blasts out at you from the speakers with metal-laden insurgency. Hailing from a seemingly odd location for this type of aggressive metal, Boise, Idaho’s Priapism puts it out there in such a way to convince you that Boise may not be the north western cow town that you’d probably expect.Last Stand is reminiscent of the hardcore metal onslaught of bands such as All Out War and Premonitions of War (war seems to be a binding thematic element here) Priapism offers a bit more diversity than that however with Clutch like breakdowns and a lot of Slayer influenced progressions. Musically the EP pounds and shreds, and for the most part I don’t have any complaints. I do however always make a point of contention with growling death metal vocals. That sort of thing ain’t my cup of tea. Fortunately much of the vox are done in a more intelligible hardcore friendly way.Aside from that, 3 of the 4 tracks clock in over 3 minutes with the average being approximately 3.8 minutes. My short attention span just can’t keep up. Barring any of my personally perceived down falls, Priapism seems to be a pretty promising new band.http://myspace.com/priapismusic-Jerry Actually

Ty Tabor

Ty Tabor – Naomi's Solar Pumpkin (re-master) © 1997 Tabor Tooth Records – 2005 Official bootlegThe version of Naomi's Solar Pumpkin (NSP) that I am reviewing is the 2005 re-master of the original 1997 release. Written and released by Ty Tabor , the astounding guitar player and song writer from the perpetually underrated band King's X, NSP reflects the best parts of Faith Hope Love era Kings X. The CD is filled with some of the most tasteful guitar work around and though it crosses a lot of gray area genres, it is largely on the mellow side. (this is of course subjective) In regards to the more aggressive end of the CD's spectrum, Ty Tabor was running “Drop-D” tuning long before it became the status quo. This is certainly evident on NSP. I can't exactly speak for the quality difference between the original and the re-master as I don't have the original for a reference. I will however just assume that the new version is better. That being said, I'll keep this short. Ty rocks!-Jerry Actually

Horrorpops

Horrorpops – Bring It On (c) 2005 Hellcat Records The second release by the Horrorpops sounds a bit like Siouxsie Sioux over a rockabilly band. I was hoping for more ‘Psycho’billy action considering that the Necroman and now Geoff Kresge are playing the guitar. It’s a good relase, but I wish it had more guts.http://www.hell-cat.comhttp://www.horrorpors.com-Jerry Actually