The New Limits are back!

It has been a while since we have heard from Boston’s ‘The New Limits.’  This band has unleashed a follow up to their 2015 release with a self-titled LP.  Let’s take this one for a test drive…

  1. “Loss For Words”- The New Limits kick things off with a traditional number, featuring one heck of a saxophone solo.  This is the style of ska I was raised on, not really punky, yet more upbeat than most of the traditional stuff out there.  A great dancin’ song.  Grade:  B+
  2. “Transition”-Another up-tempo ska ditty that will get your feet moving. The lead vocals were a little monotone for me; however I real dug the backing vocals on this one.  The sax gets his time to shine again as well.  Grade: B+
  3. “New Way”-Time to slow things down a bit in this next number. What this song lacks in tempo, it more than makes up in horn power.  Skank on!  Grade: B+
  4. “Up In the Air”-Even though I think this is the same vocalist as the previous songs, the quality here seems to be kicked up a notch. This one is also a tad on the slower side with almost a “smoke filled lounge” sort of feel.  Reminds me of some of the tunes from the Bishops.  Great tune.  Grade: A-
  5. “Stir the Pot”- The New Limits stick to their ska roots while incorporating a dose of funk. Get your groove on with this song as it’s probably the most edgy thus far.  Grade: A-
  6. “What’s the Worst That Could Happen?”- I really dig the horn solos near the end of this tune, but overall, this one drags on a bit with me.  With so many other fine songs on this album thus far, it is hard to stand out in the crowd.  A solid tune nonetheless, just not one of my favs.  Grade: B
  7. “Champion (Underdog)”- If ever there was a ska anthem for the self doubters, this would be it. Having more of a reggae feel, this great song features more of a gritty guitar and a melodica.  Although it is short in length, it definitely packs a major punch to the ear drums.  Grade: A-
  8. “I’ll Never Listen”- “I’ll Never Listen” embodies the traditional ska vibe with an old-timey 50’s feel. Lace up your saddle shoes and head on down to the sock hop.  Think The Skatalites meets Pleasantville.  Big thumbs up!  Grade: A
  9. “Fuego”-Each member of the band, gets his turn in the spotlight in this blazing instrumental that has a slight Latin big band feel. Great stuff.  Grade: A
  10. “Part of Me”-More melodica magic can be heard in the slower paced “Part of Me.” Although Matty C is singing out of range in some parts, this is still a great, great song.  Grade: A-
  11. “Priceless”-The New Limits save one of their bests for lasts. Lyrically, this is just a fun ditty that will keep you skankin’ long after the song is done.  Grade: A-

 

The year was 1996 when I attended my first ska show.  Max and the Invaders (known then as simply The Invaders) packed the smoky coffee and played for what seemed like hours.  I was hooked on ska and the rest is history.  Now I appreciate all variations of this great genre, but it was The Invaders that introduced me to the danceable, up-tempo version that I still love today.  As mentioned above, The New Limits do an excellent job of playing track after track of this skank worthy type of ska.  This being noted, every song is not a carbon copy of the one before, but rather is a new musical experience, accomplished through varied tempos and a smattering of other genres.  There are many bands out there with accomplished horn sections, but featuring solos seems to be oftentimes overlooked.  The New Limits take extra care to let each of the horn players show their stuff, so to speak.  Vocally speaking, Matty C doesn’t have my favorite voice in the biz; it is certainly not off-putting either.  That being said, you can see from the grades above, this fact did not affect my grading much at all.  This is a great album that belongs in your collection.  If you are a fan of The Green Room Rockers, Dropsteady, The Dropsteppers or even Rude King, then give The New Limits a listen!

Overall Grade: A-

 

Check them out!

Bandcamp

Facebook

Web

Warped Tour 2017, Tinley Park, IL…A Review

Last week I had the privilege of attending the Vans Warped Tour just outside of Chicago.  A lot has changed since the last time I attended the traveling musical music festival back in 1998.  What was once ruled by pop-punk and ska bands has been “warped” into a haven of melodic hardcore bands with a smattering of just about everything else.  Although screamo is not my thang, there were a few bands that made me eager to make the 4 hour drive.  It is impossible to see every band at Warped Tour because of the rotating stage setup, so I can only review the bands that I personally saw.  Also, since ska was not very well represented this year, this review will include other genres as well.  Well here goes…

 

  1. Save Ferris (full set) – Monique Powell and crew was one of the main reasons for wanting to go to Warped Tour this year. Although radically different from each other, I love both of their full length albums and was eager to see them live once again.  While it was great to hear new tunes from the band along with some old favorites, this was a bit of a let- down for me.  Monique still has some powerful pipes, however they were marred, probably from a 20+ year Camel Light habit.  The vocals were raspy and even slurred at times, that of a bar hag that closes out the local saloon.  Overall, it was a pretty decent set, with the band being livelier than ever, it just did not hold up to my expectations.  Grade: B-

 

  1. New Year’s Day (partial set)- I don’t listen to a lot of metal, but after listening to a few of their tunes on Spotify, I thought I’d give this band a try. Most of the band members were covered in some sort of face/neck makeup as if they missed the memo that they were not in fact playing at a Hot Topic.  Ash Costello rocked her signature half black, half red hairstyle as she belted out lyrics with the best of them.  Although ska is still my thing, and I am still not a self-proclaimed metal head, this band is great.  Combining straight up metal with a slight pop element (similar to Papa Roach) with powerfully intoxicating female vocals made for an enjoyable set.  I wish I could have seen the entire show, however, we did leave a little early to catch the next band on our list.  Grade: A-

 

  1. Stacked Like Pancakes(full set)- The other reason for attending Warped Tour this year.  After falling in love with their album and also trying to take in every ska band on the list, SLP was a must see.  Their ‘This Is Us’ album is fantastic, however, it seems to be heavily produced at times and I always wondered if they could pull of their songs live.  Boy did they ever!  Whether playing cover tunes or their own ditties, Stacked Like Pancakes came through with their almost perfect set with both precision and bombastic flare.  Kellen even nailed the rap parts in “Laughing at Me.”  This band has definitely honed their craft.  Move over Reel Big Fish, because Stacked Like Pancakes are the new kings of ska punk!  Grade: A

 

  1. Sonic Boom Six(partial set)- To be frankly honest, I never really got into this band.  Because much of their music is influenced by ska (no horn section) I felt obligated to check them out.   A lead singer has to either have a classically good voice, or at least a voice that is interesting for me to appreciate the band as a whole.  I am sorry to say that in this case it was neither.  I found the vocals to be annoying and difficult to understand what she was singling most of the time.  This was hugely distracting and took away from the band as a whole, as the instrumentation was pretty solid.  This was probably the biggest disappointment of the day for me.  Grade: D

 

  1. Jule Vera (partial set)- Amongst the hardcore screaming bands, Jule Vera was the proverbial sore thumb of Warped Tour. Playing a very pop-heavy version of rock, this band was a breath of fresh air when crunchy guitars and guttural vocals could be heard in the distant.  Switching between traditional drums and  electronic drum pad, Jule Vera’s sound was the likes of something you’d hear on top 40’s radio.  I say this not to criticize but to only categorize.  The biggest stand out for this band was the lead vocalist.  Sweet, but powerful vocals came out of this seemingly 12 year old girl ( I think she is closer to 20 IRL).  Jule Vera was one of the biggest surprises of the day for me.  The only reason we left earlier was to check out another band on the list.  Grade: A

 

  1. Alestorm-(full set)- I can honestly say that Alestorm was the first pirate metal band I had ever seen/heard.  I don’t normally like bands with gimmicks, but these guys are the real deal.  The fact that their music has a “theme” does not take away from the excellent musicianship and often witty song writing.  The lead singer sounds just like you’d expect from a band like this, raspy and a little wacky.  Featuring not only an organ but also a keytar, Alestorm put on a fantastic set.  Check these dudes out if you get the chance.  Grade: A

 

  1. Bad Cop/Bad Cop (full set)- We had not seen any punk bands yet, so it was time to check out Bad Cop/Bad Cop. This all female group was full of sass, but yet looked nice enough to be your mom.  Playing straight up punk with a dash of pop, this group of ladies sure could tear up the stage.   One of the gals had a better voice (I think it was Jennie) and wished she would have sung the lead on more of the songs, but overall this was a fun show.  Classic punk riffs with great vocal harmonies; what’s not to like?  Grade: B

 

  1. American Authors(full set)- This is a band that I have not followed, but was curios to check out because they were on of the more ‘famous’ bands at the venue. Playing a more radio-friendly version of rock than most of the bands at Warped Tour, this band had the stuff.  There is a reason why these guys have “made it” so to speak, from the pleasant vocals to the instrumentation with mass appeal.  The highlight was when the horn section from Save Ferris backed up the guys during their big hit “Best Day of My Life”  Grade: A

 

  1. Anti-Flag(partial set)- I’m not a big Anti-flag fan, but because there were no other bands that we wanted to see at that time slot, thought we would give them a listen. If brash punk rock it your thing, than you would have enjoyed this show.  Although it was kind of what I expected, I was hoping for something more.  It wasn’t horrible, yet I did not become an Anti-Flag convert after this show either.  Besides, the incited circle pit was too much for this old dude to handle, so we made our exit.  Grade: C

 

GWAR(full set)-  GWAR seems like an odd choice for the Warped Tour, but so does a rapper with a mullet(Feeki).  Seeing GWAR was never on my bucket list, but because we were already there, we could not pass up the opportunity.  After all, GWAR is the stuff of legend.  I do not like the growling type of metal the GWAR plays, however, seeing the elaborate costumes and over the top stage show was worth the watch.  Although I was not close enough to the stage to get doused in blood or any other strange liquids, it was still a site to behold.  Grade:C+

Part VI-What Do You Know About Ska Punk? Vol. 1

51. Empatee du Weiss-“Shut Up!”- I will definitely check these guys out.  Think big-band ska with a female lead.  Swanky with a circus feel near the end!  Grade: B+

52. Crash the Owl Party-“Steel Beams”- Taking inspiration from 90’s alternative rock, these dudes added a horn section and boom! There are no easy comparisons here, but if you like your ska on the harder side, than this band is for you.  Grade: B+

53. Atterkop-“Safer Spaces”- If you couldn’t tell already I am not a huge fan of hardcore. Although there are horns and ska guitar mixed in, the hardcore vocals just ruin it for me.  Grade: D

54. SiBANNAC-“Offbeat”- This is a typical example of a punk band that uses the classic ska guitar riff. There is some variety as this guitar part constantly changes tempo throughout, but all in all this song was not my favorite.    Grade: C-

55. Unicorn Injection-“Drunk Nurse”- The self-proclaimed ‘pop-punk band with a ska flare’ has entertained me over the course of nearly three minutes in “Drunk Nurse.”  The instrumentation here could use a little polishing however the vocals (by Miss Karen Roberts) are powerfully intoxicating.  Good stuff.  Grade: B+

56. One Man Down- “This is Growing Up”- Enjoyable ska punk with a pop flare. I dig the vocal harmonies and the blaring horns.  Grade: B+

57. Be Like Max-“Yeah, So What”-When this song first kicked off, I wasn’t sure if I really liked the vocals, but as the song raged on, they grew on me. Great punk guitar and excellent horns make this one a winner.  Grade: A-

58. ZEME LIBRE-“Jungle Master”- Hmmm. Well, I’m not sure if this is ska or reggae or what this really is.  I guess it is jungle music.  Whatever it is, I dig it.  Grade: A-

59. Los Duenos-“Passione”-Although my Spanish is a bit rusty, I did enjoy parts of this Hispanic ditty, mainly the guitar part and the horns. The vocals were a bit aggressive at times and I’m not sure of the record scratching helped or hurt this song.  Grade: B-

60. Half Past Two-“Not Enough”- Tara Hahn and crew slay it in this song, as they do on every song on every album. From Tara’s sweet vocals to their poppier nature, this band has the potential to break through to more mainstream outlets.  This is one of my favorite ska/punk bands of the moment.  Do yourself a solid and listen to their other stuff.  Grade: A

 

Check it out:

Bandcamp

 

Monty and The Bishops!

Monty Neysmith of Symarip is at it again.  After recording several songs with The Soul Radics and The Bishops, Monty and The Bishops team up once again for this latest single.  Check it out…

  1. Skin Flint- I promise you will be hypnotized by the low roar on the organ in this sweet rocksteady tune.  The horns here are scant, but definitely make an impact.  A fantastic instrumental!  Grade: A-

 

  1. Fung Shu-Ska with an oriental twist. One of the more interesting songs I’ve ever reviewed, I really enjoyed how Monty “toasted” on top of the normal singing parts.  Old School Cool!  Grade: B+

 

 

Although singles certainly whet your appetite for new tunes, they have always been a tease for me, leaving me hungry for more.  The latest release from Monty and The Bishops is no exception. I really enjoyed these two new renditions of classic Symarip songs.  Although his voice is strained somewhat from age, Monty can still lay down some pretty entertaining vocals.  The Bishops are always great, whether they are backing up this seasoned pro, or when performing by themselves.  I would consider the Bishops a ‘live band’ as the performances that I’ve seen pack more of a punch than their recorded tunes.  That being stated, this single is crisp and has excellent sound quality.  Both songs, but more so with “Fung Shu” make you feel like you are in the audience singing and skanking along.  Be sure to check out Monty and The Bishops during several shows they will be playing together over the next few months.  Maybe this will lead to a full length album.  We can only hope.

 

Overall Grade: A-

Check it out:

New singles! MONTY NEYSMITH of SYMARIP with THE BISHOPS “Skin Flint” b/w “Fung Shu” 7″ and AKASHA “You Make Me Feel Good” b/w “Eye For An Eye” 7″

 

 

 

The Best of the Worst? You Decide

Is ska-core your thing?  Well it’s time to check out the latest EP from New Jersey’s The Best of the Worst.  Let’s give ‘Painted Fools a listen…

 

  1. “Habits Live Hard”-Straying from the typical ska punk sound, The Best of the Worst goes for more of a straight up aggressive rock with horns sound. I really dig the harmonizing backing vocals, but am less of a fan of the screaming.  All in all, this is a solid start.  Grade: B

 

  1. “In My Apartment”- More of a dark, ominous feel than the previous song, “In My Apartment” switches back from stereotypical ska sound, to more hardcore/death metal feel. At times, I felt as if these elements didn’t always meld together, but once again, a pretty decent song none the less.  Grade: B-

 

  1. “Where Complacency Lives”-The horn section really tears it up in this next number. Other than that, I dig the singing parts, but once again, the screaming is not my thing.  Grade: C

 

  1. “Spoiler Alert”-Constant switching of vocalists with a backdrop that sounds like a 70’s sitcom make for an enjoyable tune. Don’t get me wrong, this song still packs a major punch with crunchy punk guitars and deep guttural vocals.  Grade: B

 

  1. “It Doesn’t Really Matter”- Clocking in at only 1:23 minutes, this is the shortest track on the EP. Although the lyrics are scant, I really appreciated the attention paid here to the vocal quality.  A great emo with horns song that I wish could be a tad longer.  Grade: A-

 

  1. “Like Bugs in Amber”-I love, love, love the female vocals in this ditty. Big cheers to The Best of the Worst for taking this vocalist from the background and putting her up front and center.  The rest of the song, is concerned, everything fits well together in this great ska punk number.  Grade: A-

 

  1. “We’ve Been Help Captive”- Another song that seems to be all over the place. The regular singing parts and the screaming parts seem to be spliced together from two completely different songs.  Throw the instrumentation in there and you have musical mass confusion.  Grade: D

 

Let’s get this out of the way first.  It will come as no surprise that I am not a big fan of screaming in music.  I can tolerate a little if it is in the background or done sporadically (i.e. Dicky Barrett), but not when it is so in your face as it is on this record.   Also there were several times when these screaming parts felt totally disconnected from the rest of the song, like they didn’t belong.  That being said, there is a lot of great things here, for those of you who are in fact into a more aggressive slant to your ska.  I really appreciated the switching of vocalist; they all certainly each brought something different to the table.  My favorite is the female vocalist, who is great for backing, but exceptional as a lead.  I personally wish that the rest of the album sounded more like “It Doesn’t Really Matter” and “Like Bugs in Amber.”  Although there were a few bumps along the way, but I’m glad I gave this band a listen.  If you are in hardcore, give ‘Painted Fools’ a try!

 

Overall Grade: B-

 

Check them out:

Facebook.

Bandcamp

Part V-“What Do You Know About Ska Punk? Vol. 1”

41. The Hostiles-“Night Out”- Everything about this song is great; upbeat with bratty punk vocals with blaring horns and a low-roaring organ. I did appreciate the switching of vocalist and the quirkiness of the lead.  I’m not sure I could listen to an entire album of this particular vocalist, but I would love to find out more about this band.  This song is great!  Grade: A-

42. Bitter Grounds-“Pressure”- Rockin’ from across the pond, Bitter Grounds mixes rock and dirty reggae. The lead’s voice can be considered somewhat abrasive, I eventually acquired the taste (sound?) for it and appreciated this song for it’ gritty edge.  Grade: B

43. Bomb Flower-“Surveillance”- One of the harder tunes on the album thus far, this is mostly a punk song with sporadic ska guitar parts. There was also a haunted/spooky vibe near the middle.  While I personally downgrade for screaming, this is a band to watch.  Grade: B-

44. Dead Rejects-“Lonliness”- If Tim Armstrong and the lead singer from Slapstick had a punk love child, this is what it would sound like. Not my thing per se, however this is an excellent recording with straight up punk with a tad of ska thrown in for good measure.  Grade: B

45. Rude King-“Walk Away”- I love Rude King! Leading the show are John E Bravo and Vicki which are pure ear candy.  Throw in the rest of the band and you have the perfect ska package.  If you like this recording, you will love them live!  Grade: A

46. Faintest Idea-“Circling the Drain”- With the vocals being a little more aggressive than I typically enjoy, for some reason I really dig this tune.  Faintest Idea takes the ska punk package and dresses it with more soothing female backing vocals and laser blasts!  Check it out.  Grade: B+

47. Union Jack-“Oh Boogie!”- Although I typically enjoy dual vocalists, this tune did not sit as well for me.  I do like the organ however.    Grade: C

48. Must Build Jacuzzi-“Hey You, Skank!” With a clever play on words, this is a fast paced number that will wear out your checkered Vans in no time.  A great mix of both punk and ska elements with horns just like I like them; loud and in my face!  Grade:  B

49. Conscious Youth-“No Borders”- I wasn’t sure what I was listening to from the start, with elements of techno and Indian music. Add some smooth female vocals and a reggae slant on things and you have yourself “No Borders.”  This was very refreshing contrast after listening to a bunch of punk numbers and just a great song in general.  Grade: A

50. Anti-Venon-“The Spectacular Failure of Wishful Thinking”- This is one of those songs that you just have to listen to, and is almost indescribable.  I will do my best.  Image a ska band listening to techno while running through a haunted house.  I certainly appreciate the experimental nature of this, I’m just not sure it’s my thing.  Grade: C

 

Save Ferris is Back!

It’s been a long time coming but Monique Powell and her new crew have released a new EP entitled ‘Checkered Past.’  So exited…

 

  1. “Anything”- The opening track is a throwback to the ‘It Means Everything’ album. Monique sounds great here, as does the rest of this band in this skank-worthy tune.  I love it!  Grade: A

 

  1. “New Sound”- Save Ferris used this ditty to promote the new album and I can see why. Very clever to use Neville Staple of The Specials fame (an older ska band for you newbies) to promote this “new sound.”  The edginess is great and just as the name suggests, this does not sound like any other Save Ferris song to date.  Boo-yah!  Grade: A

 

  1. “Golden Silence”- Oh man!  Where’s my porkpie hat and 2-tone, wing-tipped Dr. Martens when I need them?  Get off your seat everyone and hit the dancefloor!   I also like the male vocals in this as well as the backing vocals.  Monique really belts it out as well.  Wow!  Grade: A

 

  1. “Do I Even Like You?” Instrumentally, this is another fantastic dancing tune.  For some reason the vocals were a bit off for me.  Instead of the normal upbeat Monique, this sounded like a Monique that has had maybe 1 to many to many to drink.  Still, this is a solid tune.  Grade: B+

 

  1. “Goodbye Brother”- Alright, it’s time to slow it done. Featuring an excellent trumpet solo, “Goodbye Brother” is the perfect way to close out this near perfect EP.  Grade: A

 

Monique Powell was not the first women to lead a ska band.  She is however, one of my favorites and was the example for other females that have followed, even to this day (Sorry Gwen).  Unfortunately after only two albums, the great band that was Save Ferris parted ways and left us devoted fans to get our ska fix elsewhere.  Fast forward over 15 years later and boom, Monique is finally back.  After assembling a new lineup, Save Ferris is ready to hit the road again to promote their “new sound” and their new EP.  While I think anyone who is into ska will dig this album, this was a special treat for us long-time fans.  Aside from “Do I Even Like You” Monique still has the vocals chops.  Overall the rest of the band is peppy and upbeat and makes you want to skank to almost every song.  What was really great was the guest appearance by Neville as well as the female backing vocals.  This is just plain awesome.   I thought that I would never get to relive the live performance I saw at Warped Tour 1998.  I may now have my chance.  I hope this band will rise to the top once again and put out a full length album (or maybe a double album!) in the not too distant future.  Are you as excited as I am?  You should be…

 

Overall Grade: A

 

 

Check them out

Facebook

Part IV- ‘What Do You Know About Ska Punk? Vol. 1

 

 

 

31. Askultura-“Older Sister”-Time for a good ol’ fashioned ska hoedown. Askultura brings to this compilation one of the most unique songs on this compilation.  If ska, bluegrass, a pirate and school-yard double-dutch had a baby, this is what is would sound like.    Grade: B-

32. Night Gaunts-“Trippin’ In the Basement”- sounding slightly like “Hiding in my Headphones from Reel Big Fish, “Trippin” blurs the lines of what most would consider ska.  Ska- at its core, yes, but elements of straight up rock and hip-hop are paired with wacky vocals.  I’m not sure I could listen to an entire album of songs like this, but I enjoyed this tune for what it was.  Grade: B+

33. Autnomads-“Headline”- The male vocals dropped my opinion of this song down a notch, but his female counterpart reminded me of many of the vocalists from my favorite gal groups of the 80’s (Bananarama, The Bangles, The Go-Go’s etc.) Instrumentally this is a straight up ska ditty.  This band shows promise and I can’t wait to check out some of their other stuff.  Grade: B+

34. The Mini Nukes-“Pound Shop Prostitute”- There aren’t a lot of 3-piece ska-infused bands that can pull it off. The Mini Nukes are no exception.  I was not a fan of the vocals and the constant changing of rhythms gave me musical whiplash.  Grade: D

35. Dance Contraption-“Open Road”- The ska band rolodex in my head is failing because these guys remind me of anther band, but I cannot put my finger on it. Feeling more like straight up rock then punk, all in all I liked this song.  Other than the need to polish things up a bit, this song is a winner.  Grade: B+

36. Johnny Kawalski and the Sexy Weirdos-“Tequila Song”- As previously mentioned, I’m not usually a fan of drinking songs, but this for some reason works. Maybe it is the light-hearted tone as opposed to the belligerent drunk nature of the other songs.  The Sexy Weirdos’ sound features elements of ska, but there is much more going on than that.  Their Facebook page describes their music as body-snatching carnival punk.  I would say this is an accurate description.  Grade: B

37. Public Serpents-“Get Right”- There was nothing wrong with the instrumentation in this fine example of ska-punk, but I could not get past the vocals.  Vocally, this sounded like Slapstick, but with more screaming.  Sorry, not my thing.  Grade: D-

38. Sea Serpent Tsunami-“Dance Rude Boy”-I really enjoyed the longer intro to this one, which built up my anticipation of what was to come. The vocals were not abrasive and the lone saxophone really created an edginess.  I was not a fan however of the gang vocals and awkward rhythm changes.  Overall a solid tune.  Grade: B

39. Bada Bings-“To Hell With Every T.V.”-When this song first started, it was your typical ska-infused punk number.  As the song played on I became more disinterested and bored.  Sorry guys.  Grade: C-

40. The UpFux-“Killjoy”- Upbeat, happy ska with whistling! Musically, this is certainly on par, but again, I’m not a huge fan of the vocals.  Grade: B-

 

C’mon everyone it’s time to ‘Sound the Alarm’

The long-running ska band that needs no introduction, Less Than Jake has recently released a new EP entitled ‘Sound the Alarm.’  Let’s push play…

 

  1. “Call to Arms”-Starting things out with Roger plucking the base, quickly turns into your typical LTJ tune, helmed by Chris on the mic. Although this is more on the poppier side and the horns are a little drowned out, this is a solid way to begin the album.  Grade: B+

 

  1. “Whatever the Weather”- Playing more of a pivotal role than the previous track, the horn section is definitely front and center in this ditty. Roger rocks this tune, which is ready for immediate radio play.  Grade: A

 

  1. “Bomb Drop”-Not being able to decide who should sing on “Bomb Drop,” Chris and Roger spend equal time belting out lyrics. Once again, your standard LTJ fare, which is not a bad thing.  Grade: A

 

  1. “Welcome to My Life”- This next track is slightly slower than the previous three and leans more to the ska (vs. punk) side of things. While there is more rocking out around the 2/3 mark, this tune is just alright for me.  Grade: B

 

  1. “Good Sign”- Switching back to more of a punk with horns song, there is nothing new to the seasoned LTJ listener. That being said, they have all the ingredients for an enjoyable tune.   Grade: B+

 

  1. “Years of Living Dangerously”- I can’t put my finger on it but “Years of Living Dangerously” has a more mature sound, showing more depth than the rest of the album. I dig it!   Grade: A-

 

  1. “Things Change”- It’s easy to see why the boys used this song to promote the album. Featuring a horn line that will get stuck in your noodle, this is the best tune found on ‘Sound the Alarm.’  Two thumbs up.  Grade: A

 

The year was 1996.  This was the year that I purchased the compilation ‘Ska The Third Wave, Vol. 2’ and heard Less Than Jake for the first time.  Prior to this I had really only heard the up-tempo stylings of The Invaders and Mustard Plug (Big Daddy Multitude), so their punked up version of the ska genre was a real eye opener.  Shortly after this I purchased ‘Losing Streak’ and the rest is history.  Since then LTJ has pumped out a slew of albums, which have all been enjoyable in their own right. That brings us to their latest release, ‘Sound the Alarm.’  First of all what has always impressed me about this band is that after 20+ years as a band, their sound never sounds stale and there are no two songs that sound alike.  ‘Sound the Alarm,’ like many of their later albums has more of a polished sound then the days of ‘Pezcore’ and ‘Losers…’  What I really like about this album (as with most of their later stuff) is the sharing of vocals between Chris and Roger.  I am innately more drawn to Chris’s voice more, however, Roger adds a fun change of pace.  Musically there is really nothing new here if you have been listening to this band for any time.  This is a good thing!  Less Than Jake continues to surge on with the ska/punk brand they have honed over all of these years.  Crunchy punk guitars? Check.  Blaring catchy horn parts? Check!  As expected, due to the fact that there are only 7 tracks, there really are no filler songs.  I thoroughly enjoyed this entire album, which has filled the LTJ void until their next full length.  If you are already a fan of this band, purchasing this is a definite no-brainer.  If you are new to the ska/punk scene, this release (and/or any of their other releases) are a must have for your arsenal.

 

Overall Grade: A-

 

 

Check them out

Facebook

Web

Part III-‘What Do You Know About Ska Punk? Vol. 1’

 

 

 

 

 

21. No Cops For Miles-“It Doesn’t Matter (Feat.The Worst & The Stupid Stupid Henchmen)”- The screaming is awful. The vocals and the         instrumentation seem to be going in completely opposite directions.  Also it sounds as if this was recorded in a garage.  Grade: F

22. Part One Tribe-“Selena”- Part One Tribe, helmed by ROB-D brings it with their reggae rock style. The vocals seem to be coming out of a much older gentlemen, which adds some much appreciated depth to their sound.  Why have I never heard of this band before? Grade: A-

23. Stupid Flanders-“Infectious”- Acoustic guitars rarely work for me, when it comes to incorporating it into the genre.  They quickly switch to more familiar territory with the typical third wave guitar riff and blaring horns.  Fun song!  Grade: B

24. The Great Asian Psycopath-“Politricks”- These guys are a 2-piece punk outfit (with a virtual drummer!) adding just a sprinkle of ska to the mix.  There was really nothing here that  stood out for me about this song.  Grade: C

25. The Hempsteadys-“Charlie Dynamite”- Starting out with a bit of a disco flare, the instrumentation hear is top-notch. Once again, not being in love with the vocals, I downgrade only based upon that.  Grade: B

26. Navarro & The Traitors-“Youth Not Wasted”- While I like the unique vocals of Eric Abbey, this song was just ok with me. There seems to be a lot going on in this gritty tune, and I’m not sure they all flow together.  Grade: C

27. The Pisdicables-“”Spooky”- Organs are found more with traditional ska bands and tend to be overlooked with the punkier bands.  The Pisdicables place the organs and raging horns as a pivotal part of their sound (at least in this song).  I dig it.  Grade: B

28. The Shop-“Jumbie Jamboree”- The Shop has not  re-invented traditional ska, but they certainly are close to perfecting it.  Sweet rocksteady grooves are found here with smooth vocals and an awesome horn solo.  Grade: A-

29. MC Lars-“Sublime With Rome (Is Not the Same Thing As Sublime)(Feat.Roger Lima of Less Than Jake & Suburban Legends)”- Poking fun at the  music industry and bands that continue rocking without key members, this all-star cast delivers one of the catchiest songs on this album.  A great ska anthem!  Grade: A

30. The Land Before Tim-“Charlene”- I’m not really sure what to make up this band.  The self-proclaimed skacore band from Chicago, has more of an up-tempo sound switching between raspy vocals and  traditional soulful singing.  This reminds me of a punked up version of 3 Minute Hero (from the Minneapolis area).  Grade: C-

 

Check it out!

Bandcamp

RSS WordPress Plugin by WP Tutor.io
RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
Facebook
Twitter
Visit Us