The Skashank Redemption – To Victory!

© 2013
Rating: ★★★★★★★★½☆

SkashankCoverI miss the days of 3rd wave ska. I’m pretty sure that any other fun lovin’, skankin’, also liken punk sorta folks feel the same. Well I’ll be damned if life doesn’t sometimes provide it’s own time machine, ‘cause ska (in a decidedly 3rd wave variety) is making its rounds again.

I’m listening to “To Victory!” the new E.P. by The Skashank Redemption (not to be confused with The Skaskank Redemption … I know, confusing, right?) but I digress. These boys, Skashank, not Skaskank are from the bustling, 14th largest city in the USA, Columbus, OH. Maybe there’s something about the midwest? The beer, the weather, the sassy ladies? There’s something that brings out the pep in the horns, the plink of the strings and the silly antics of high number of member bands.

Enough of that though, To Victory! makes good with six tracks of solid ska. Among other influences, The Skashank Redemption sound reminds me so much of Spring Heeled Jack (USA) yet without coming off as derivative or posing. They’ve got plenty of their own spin in the mix. The songs are peppy and danceable and well polished. There’s an effort being put forth by the musicians that shines through in the recording. It takes a lot of talent to coordinate a seven member band with the level of precision that To Victory! provides. To that I say cheers and keep on skankin’

The only detractor for me are a bit too much of the joke banter. Some folks may like it. I’m not a fan. That aside, a solid release.

Bottom line is that if you’ve not been getting your fill of fresh ska, head on over and check out The Skashank Redemption over on their page here: https://www.facebook.com/theskashankredemption

Cheers,
Jerry Actually

Johnny Cakes and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypso – Curse of the Unsinkable Ship

© 2012
Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

Johnny Cakes and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypso - The Curse of the Unsinkable ShipAh ah Johnny Cakes and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypso. (known further as JCFHA) what wacky blend of ska/funk/punk/calypso have you crafted for us? Well, I suppose that actually rather describes it. The new release by Tampa’s JCFHA, “Curse of the Unsinkable Ship” is, in fact, a blend of Ska, Funk, Punk, and Calypso.

The album holds 15 tracks. This includes both a prologue and epilogue, so consider it 13 musical numbers and some guidance. Conceptually it reminds me of the ska classic, Full Trucker Effect, by Johnny Socko. The tracks are often a bit lower tempo, but that story telling vibe is there. Granted, the storyline is slightly less cohesive. JCFHA seems to be a bit more focused on the comedic elements of their “theme” album. That’s fine. Not judging. Just saying.

Comparisons aside, the album is fun. It has an exceedingly casual vibe and is very very party. However, I’m only halfway through. Things could take a darker turn. I’ll go get a refreshing beverage and let you know.

Ok, so the album does take a darker and a bit unusual turn around track 10, Suburban Wasteland. If you’re from the suburbs, then you know the specific kind of hell the song speaks of. I suspect that in their haste to escape the ‘burbs, JCFHA took a wrong turn and ended up in the sticks as track 11 gets decidedly country. Humor still intact, the release travels on.

At the end of the day, what you in Curse of the Unsinkable Ship is a none-too-serious, but seriously fun blend of ska heavy rock-n-roll. If you’re at all curious, check ‘em out here: http://www.reverbnation.com/johnnycakes Seriously check ‘em out. This band has a steel drum player. How cool is that?

-Jerry Actually

Eli Whitney & The Sound Machine – Mickey

© 2011
Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

Mickey is a 10 track punk infused ska release by long island band Eli Whitney & The Sound Machine. The band positions itself as a skapunk outfit, and I suppose I can see that. However I think they lean, on this release at least, more towards the ska end of the spectrum. I am totally cool with that.

Mickey came out at the tail end of 2011 and from what I can tell is the third release from the band. The tracks on the album typify what I’ve come to think of as the 4th wave sound. Ska, if you know anything of its history, tends to take the traditional calypso rhythms and styles and blend them with both popular and less popular music of the current era, e.g. punk and metal of the respective 2nd and 3rd waves.

The current incarnation is to some extent bridging the divide over from the 3rd wave with a ska punk sound that has become more rooted in a less aggressive punk style and to a certain degree almost a blend of vaguely folkish rock. Eli Whitney & The Sound Machine do an admirable job with this style and easily recall their influences and contemporaries like Streetlight Manifesto and Big D. and the Kids Table.

On the whole, Mickey is a great release. You can download it from the bandcamp site for whatever price you feel it’s worth. If you can afford to, I’d suggest dropping some coin for this release and in return for your download you’re donating to the honorable cause of supporting independent music.

–Jerry Actually

Dan P. & The Bricks – Watch Where You Walk

©2011 Asian Man Records
Rating: ★★★★★★★★★☆

When I first heard about this band I was quite excited. The group is a bit of a ska dream team, if you will. When I heard that there was going to be a release this year I was even more exited. “Watch Where You Walk” is the new album by Dan P and the Bricks; You’re going to have to be patient though the album drops on 11/29/2011 on Asian Man Records, natch.

For those of you unfamiliar, Dan P is, of course, Dan Potthast of MU330 fame. The Bricks, not to be out-pedigreed, feature members of Slow Gherkin. Combined, the results are that mythical situation where the result is greater than the sum of the parts. But with a 5 piece horn section, dual guitars, organ bass and drums, the math can’t be too far off.

The music is straight up ska goodness with everything I love about the respective members bands, and about ska overall. On top of the tradition, Dan P & The Bricks make the style their own, and an awesome style it is.

While each track is pretty much a gem, a couple of the best are: 1. Watch Where You Walk, 4. Set Sail (Which is a new version from Dan’s Eyeballs release) and 5. One Reason (has great point/counter point male female vocals). Honestly I’m having a hard time pulling favorites.

In addition to the great music, the band is down for a cause. Their focus is to play locally and raise money for local charities. How’s that for rad music with a conscious and a voice for change! (Fund raisers so far have included benefit concerts for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Hospice of Santa Cruz County, Haitian earthquake relief, Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America, Doctors without Borders, and The Surf City AIDS Ride benefiting The Santa Cruz AIDS Project.)

So let’s hear it for some fresh off the shelf ska at its shiny new best. Maybe we’re finally gonna get the next wave. You can get more info about the band and get yourself a copy over at asianmanrecords.com

–Jerry Actually

For fans of: Ska, MU330, Slow Gherkin, The Slackers, The Toasters

Watch Where You Walk Tracklisting:
1. Watch Where You Walk
2. Fan
3. Footdown
4. Set Sail
5. One Reason
6. Map of the Stars
7. Mess It Up
8. Heartbeat Survival
9. Completely True
10. Connecting Four
11. Sweat For It
12. Quit On Me

Flatout Jones – Closed Doors and Weird Situations

©2010 Flatout Jones

A. I love punk rock.
B. I love skapunk.
C. I love comedic overtones (and undertones)

Flatout Jones provides all of the above.

Consider this: the more punk side of Less Than Jake and the ska side of the Suicide Machines; add those together, recalibrate to those settings, set the dial a bit more towards punk rock, plant tongue firmly in cheek and I think you’ll get a decent idea of what I’m picking up from Flatout Jones.

Once again I’m faced with some music outta Mass that sounds badass. Closed Doors and Weird Situations from Boston quartet Flatout Jones has it where it counts. (See the above list)

In a nutshell you’ve got a punk rock band that isn’t afraid to bring the ska and interject an ample amount of humor into the tracks. Don’t, however, let the idea of humor scare you off, ya know if you’re a totally serious jackhole that can’t for a second let down your guard and everything has to be toughguy or die. … you know who you are. I like party songs. So sue me.

The intro track/song makes me think of Killface, that muscular talon-footed fella from Frisky Dingo, Not so much from direction more from intonation and intent. For my money you don’t get better sarcastic humor than that. I digress. You’ll probably want to know a bit more about the music contained on said release.

Certainly the band offers bang for the buck. 17, count ‘em, 17 tracks contained on one release. If you we’re to compare that to, oh say The Decline from NOFX, you’d have 16 more tracks. Beat that! Really though, the tracks rip, they’re played well and the mix of mostly punk with the occasional ska break doesn’t disappoint. (Assuming that sort of thing doesn’t disappoint you.)
If you wanna hear a bit for yourself, you can check the band out here in their online cemetery/museum: http://www.myspace.com/flatoutjones

Step 1. Listen
Step 2. Rock

–Jerry Actually

Phat Meegz – M.S.G. To Rudy

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Damn, sometimes I wish this was my job so I could be all like, “Damn, I love my job!” As it is, the only payment I get from this little hobby is the whole world of music that I get left on my doorstep, if you will.

What I’m listening to right now is “M.S.G. To Rudy” (as in the oh so delicious seasoning that makes you crave the Colonel’s chicken fortnightly) from the band Phat Meegz. The band hails from that tiny island at the bottom of Australia. You know the one famous for devils and commercial meat slicers? (ok, maybe Hobart Corp isn’t from Australia, but Hobart is the capital of Tasmania, therefore it should be from there.) At any rate, straight outta Tasmania, Phat Meegz is self-described as, “crusty reggae hardcore shit on like, a sublime/crack rock steady tip, with all the retarded braindead flavour so typical to Australia.” I will not disagree.

M.S.G. To Rudy delivers 12 gritty tracks with a heavy dose reggae swagger (and maybe Old Spice Swagger) as well as the more crack rocksteady punkish flavor of Leftover Crack, INDK, Morning Glory etc. On top of that, track 11 reminds me of the ska/punk band, Knowledge (a Link 80 related project off of Asianman a few years back) It is intriguing though, beneath the rather convoluted veneer, there seems to be some genuine soul. Track six, for instance, with a title like “For a Girl” things might seem immediately trite. However, I feel like there is a little more going on there. Damnit, there is some emotion going on in these songs. … I guess that isn’t so crack rocksteady after all, is it?

When you boil it all down though, M.S.G To Rudy has got enough back beat and horns to please the ska kids and a generous amount of down note calypso for those that prefer their island sound a bit slower. As if that wasn’t already enough, there is still the whole crust-o-matic throat sheering thrash explosion that graces a few tracks. If you like reggae and/or ska at all, or if you’re just some kind of d-bag hater, check Phat Meegz out, why don’t ya?

–Jerry Actually

Check the band out and stream the album here: www.phatmeegz.bandcamp.com or if you want to order a real object made out of plastic and other space age polymers, try sending an email here: emandc at gmail dot com

Do It With Malice – The Burned Over District

Rating: ★★★☆☆
© 2010 Do It With Malice

Do you ever listen to new music and hear an influence or similarity, a subtle influence in the sound that makes your mind battle to figure out who or what it reminds you of? Well damn if I don’t have that going on when I listen to The Burned Over District, the new release from Do It With Malice.

Do It With Malice (DIWM) hails from the city of Buffalo in the great state of New York and plays an intriguing blend of metal punk ska. As a five-piece, the band is stripped down for efficiency considering that they have a 2/5 horn player ratio. I say hells yeah, good for them, less people to split the income with.

The Burned Out District features 10 tracks running reasonably on the quick side of the tempo spectrum. The majority of the songs are, to one degree or another, ska influenced and run heavy on the metal. An interesting note is that a good portion, especially in the early tracks of the disc, lead in with very 80’s style intros. Just listen to the single note metal riffery of “Fermeta Armada” and the clean/chorus guitar intro on track 2, “6-18” and you’ll know exactly what I mean.

In addition to previous, It also feels like there is a bit of funk influence as well. Overall, I think The Burned Over District is a solid and competent, if not completely cohesive release. I think maybe I would have arranged tracks a bit differently and I think I would ditch a lot of the guitar effects, but hey opinions vary. … But what the hell does this remind me of? Now that I think more about it, the entire sound makes me think of newer Catch 22 mixed with 311 … if you add that up, you get Catch 333 … coincidence, I think not.

Bottom line: Solid ska/punk/metal outta Buffalo. I think I would totally dig them live.

Tracks:
1: Fermata Armada
2: 6.18
3: Take The Stage
4: Russian Roulette
5: No Music
6: Nickel and Dime
7: Rabiddz
8: Pirt Egnarts
9: Choke Me Running
10: Commodity

For more info: www.diwmny.com

Mrs Skanotto – The Long Dark Road

Mrs Skanotto – The Long Dark Road

Rating: ★★★½☆
© 2010 Mrs Skanotto

Well folks, I am sonofabitchin impressed. I wrote something; someone actually read it; new audio shows up in the mail. (Specifically I said that I miss ska. Less specifically, I think I screamed it into the night sky.). So here’s what’s shakin’ bacon. I’m listening to the new release, The Long Dark Road by Rochester’s own Mrs Skanotto.

Admittedly, I am not familiar with Mrs. Skanotto. I feel a bit like I have been missing out, this being their 5th release and all. Apparently the Continental Divide does more that determine where water ends up. However, now that I’m in the know, so to speak, I’m digging the new grooves.

The Long Dark Road is a full on New England (maybe NE would be more accurate) 3rd wave ska CD. The disc delivers on 12 tracks of soulful down beat horn dripping ska. Seriously, what can you not like about music that elevates the mind and soul and makes you want to skank to boot.

The more I listen to this CD, the more it makes me think that I’ve heard this band before. On some comps maybe? For lack of any official remembrance, I’ll try to liken the sound to something I’m more familiar with. I’m thinking that an artful blend of Spring Heeled Jack (USA) and Deals Gone Bad (albeit with less Piratude) would be a reasonable assumption.

So here is the big breakdown. The Long Dark Road delivers really solid ska. The content ranges from love and longing to pompous posturing to camp to the dark depths of suicide. Despite the darkness the disc stays on the lighter side musically and keeps you dancing throughout. Oh, and did I mention horns? Honestly, the horns bring it!

-Jerry Actually

For fans of: Spring Heeled Jack, Deals Gone Bad, Toasters, Ska

Track Listing:

1. The Other Man
2. Girlfriend
3. Long Dark Road
4. Smashed Against the Wall
5. Ordinary Girl
6. Girl Come Back
7. Self-Appointed King
8. Get Off the Fence
9. Time to Play
10. Mainstream
11. Finally Happy
12. The 86th Floor

Ruder Than You – Creation Sounds

© 2009 God’s Ghetto Records

Rating: ★★★½☆

You know what I miss? Ska. Maybe because it was foundational in my youth and I pine for the long gone days, or more likely because ska is full on awesome, I miss ska. Thankfully I have a mailbox that occasionally gets laced with some of the good stuff. What do I have here (hear) you might ask. Well what I have is a brand new CD, Creation Sounds from Ruder Than You. This Philly ska band has been bustin’ it since back ’89 at Penn State. Eight great tracks of pick it up, dit dit dit, horn laden ska. For the uninitiated, ska music was invented by future robots that came back to the past disguised as Dutch colonists to the island for Grenada. After they invented the bicycle they grew bored and started ska bands. Ok, no really, there is a reasonably apt history of Ska on Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ska The jazz and calypso roots are unmistakable on Creation Sounds as is the love of music. Honestly I’m at a small loss for words, but I want to bring you the honest truth (in so far as I perceive it) I’m not as stoked on this as I would be a new MU330 disc, but I’m pretty damn pleased. Support your local ska band ladies and gents, and local or not, support ska by (buy) getting a copy of Creation Sounds new to you from Ruder Than You!

–Jerry Actually

Loudog – Kito

(c) 2009
Rating: ★★★☆☆

loudog_kitoLoudog hails from Braunschweig, Germany. Formerly known by the less appealing moniker “cumshot”, the band changed names in honor of their appreciation of Sublime and late (Sublime) singer Bradley’s dog. Kito delivers 11 tracks of upbeat roots ska with a bit of punk edge blended in. If I had to draw some comparison I would say that Loudog sounds a lot like a more ska oriented Millencolin. I’d also say they remind me of another band and I’m not sure who it is. I’m gonna go out on a memory loss limb and say that they sound like Umbrella Bed. Prove me wrong. If they do or don’t sound like someone else, what the do sound like is enjoyable. As usual it is refreshing to hear sounds from outside of my continent. Of note, Kito is released under the Creative Commons license. So maybe some enterprising young sound systems can mash some of these tracks into a wicked dub mix, no? It’s your call, but I like it. That said, I would have scored it a higher than a 3/5, but I think some of the tracks could have had a bit more pep.

-Jerry Actually