Articles for the Month of September 2015

Get Doped Up with the Doped Up Dollies!

After warming up their collective pipes on the ‘Fluent in Stroll’ album from Big D and the Kid’s Table, the Doped Up Dollies have decided to break out on their own.   Their blend of music, otherwise known as stroll was coined by Big D’s David McWane and  is a combination of “hop scotch, double dutch schoolyard rhymes, reggae, and soul.”  The Dollie’s debut is entitled ‘The New Way Out.’  Let’s check it out…


  1. “Make Your Own Sunshine”- There are a lot of great things going on in this opening track from this female trio, from the classic ska beat to the male backing vocals to the low roar of the organ.   Part 80’s pop and part 1950’s rock n’ roll, the Dollies have created a truly unique sound with this one.  I promise this song will get stuck in your head for days.  Grade: A


  1. “Papa Plays The Drums”- Aside from killer saxophone solos near the end and near the middle of the song, this is a straight up rock number. But much like “Make Your Own Sunshine,” this is reminiscent of the kind of rock that your parents (maybe even grandparents) used to listen to.  I dig it!  Grade: A-


  1. “Me, Fireman and Lion”- Despite the double dutch-style vocals and nonsensical lyrics this song has grown on me since my first listen. I really enjoy the backing vocals and the touch of funk vibe it puts off.  Grade: B-


  1. “How Could I Go”- Slight ska influences are seen here along with the more dominant sound of 80’s pop rock. The vocals here are top notch! Get out your Aqua Net, and your leg warmers, because this song will rock your socks off!  Grade: A


  1. “Driving Around The Square”- If this song wasn’t about the classic muscle cars from the same era that the Dollie’s musical style stems from, this could be any Rudeboy’s Vespa riding anthem. Once again, there is a great mixture of Jamaican vibes and the sounds I grew up listening to (and still listen to) on the oldies station.  Good stuff.  Grade: B+


  1. “He Get Arrested”- More so than any song on the album thus far, this is the most reggae sounding one on here. I really enjoy the subtle touches of dub in here (most bands tend to overdue the dub sound in my opinion). This song is fantastic.  Grade: A


  1. “Skinhead”- The Dollies change course once again, by laying down a highly danceable tune found in “Skinhead.” While I always enjoy horns in ska songs, the vocals are so strong here that they are almost not needed.  Grade: A-


  1. “Black Cat”- Vocally this is not my favorite song as it is done in the same style as “Me, Fireman and Lion.” Lyrically, it also doesn’t make a lot of sense.    Musically, this song is a scorcher from its blaring horns to the often overlooked guitar.  Grade: B
  2. “Be Free”- Special guest Coolie Ranx adds his legendary vocals to this soulful and playful ska tune. Excellent horns and vocal harmonization make this song a winner.  Grade: B+
  3. “Righteousness”- Very soulful vocals rule this upbeat ska tune. Using the same guitar riff as every other ska band out there, the Dollies have created a fresh new take that will turn the heads of ska fans and non ska fans alike.  Grade: A


  1. “Escape From Mount Olivedem”- If you don’t count the “oohs and ahhs” this is basically an instrumental of epic proportions. Borrowing elements from ska, and surf, among others, this tune belongs in either a James Bond or Tarentino film. Grade: A


  1. “Come Along”- The Dollies play more of a backup role in “Come Along” as the main vocals are sung by Big D’s David McWane. A great reggae number with a little sprinkle of dub for good measure.  Grade: B+


  1. “The Rude”- Creepy organs give this song a dark, gritty feel, which is in stark contrast to the more upbeat tunes on this album. This song is the stuff of nightmares, and I love it!  Grade: A-


To those who regularly read my reviews, you know that I have an affinity for female vocalists.  With the Doped up Dollies you get not one, not two, but three talented gals on the mic.  For those who have not heard The Dollies previous work (which I had not either) you have found a true gem of an album in ‘The New Way Out.’  For the ska or reggae purist, this is not, but for those looking for something new, fresh and quirky; this is THE quintessential album of 2015.  As a whole, this is unlike any album I have ever heard (which is not always a good thing), and is its biggest selling point.  Over the course of 12 tracks the Dollies journey through a slew of musical styles to include ska, reggae, rockabilly, soul, surf, doo-wop and the list goes on.  On paper it would seem like a recipe for disaster to incorporate so many different sounds, but the Dollies pull it off in a big way.  Each song is very distinct from the one before it, giving the listener an album that will not get stale over time.   In one breath they can sound like the Go-Go’s(“Make Your Own Sunshine”) and in the next they can sound like the Supremes (“ How Could I Go”).Having three capable singers makes the Dollies vocally some of the best I’ve heard, in any genre.  I certainly appreciate the ska and reggae elements here, (this is a ska website of after all) but what really stood out for me was that old style rock n’ roll feel that dominates many of the songs.  This style make the album feel old and new/fresh all at the same time.    The only downfall I see with this album is finding the right audience.  Will it be for the ska punk fan?  How about the more traditional ska/rocksteady fan?  I cannot say for sure, but what I can say that this is a musical ride you don’t want to miss.  Put on your saddle shoes, your poodle skirt AND your porkpie hat for this truly unique album.  Dig it!


Overall Grade: A-


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Show them some Duppy Love



Out for just over a couple of months is ‘Broken Organ’ from the Duppies.  The Duppies are a 7-piece straight out of Gainesville Florida.  The band began in 2004 and this latest release follows the ‘One Thousand Bullets’ album from 2010.  For now, let’s check out ‘Broken Organ’…


  1. “Broken Organ”- Straight out of the gate, the Duppies lay down a real scorcher in the title track. The melody constantly switches from slow groove to upbeat dance number. I love it!  Grade: A


  1. “Circles”- Any ska fan has heard many o’ songs that start the way this one does, but to say that this song is commonplace would be tragic. Lead micman Brian Hiebel adds a touch of soul to this tune.  Also the trumpet is fantastic, along with the rest of the horn section.  Grade: A


  1. “Ghost of San Juan”- Classic ska mixed with a Middle Eastern feel. There are not a lot of lyrics to this song, and honestly this could have been an instrumental.  Either way, this is a great tune.  Grade: A


  1. “Need You Around”- Killer horn parts and sweet lyrics make this one freakin’ sweet ditty. Again, the Duppies keep you guessing musically, as the rhythm changes several times.    Grade: A


  1. “Not this Time”- Pick it up, pick it up! The standouts in this song are the backing vocals, along with Brian’s powerful lead. Also, the organ is certainly not broken, proven by the nicely placed solo.  Grade: A-


  1. “Suzy Q”- An updated rocksteady version of an old favorite. The horns really shine in this number.  Grade: B+


  1. “Take Charge”- There is a nice contrast between Mr. Hiebel’s trademark raspiness with the smooth backing vocals. In addition, The Duppies deliver more of the good stuff found in the remainder of the album.  Grade: A-


  1. “East West”-From the lead vocals to saxophone solo, this song has somewhat of a dark, gritty feel to it. Grade: A-


  1. “Waste of Time”- A love song of sorts, I’m really digging the falsetto on the vocals as well as the low roaring organs. The horn section gives the listener a 70’s feel mixed with ska, of course!  Grade: A


  1. “What a Shame”- I hope you haven’t left the dance floor yet! Tighten the laces on your skankin’ shoe for yet another highly danceable tune!  Grade: A


  1. “Shipwrecked”- I was half expecting pirate music ala the ‘Rock the Plank’ album by the Mad Caddies. Alas, it is a groovy rocksteady tune more in the vain of Deals Gone Bad.  Grade: A-


  1. “Shake and Move”- This little ditty will make you do as the title suggests, shake and move your body. This is a pretty solid number, although not my favorite.  B+


  1. “Nightcap”-Once you have heard one drinking song, you have heard them all. Maybe not.  A great horn solo pairs nicely with the smooth horn riffs alongside the extra raspy voice.  Cheers!  Grade: A-


  1. “Pale Rider”-Paying homage to the film of the same name, “Pale Rider” has a definite western feel while sticking to its ska guns (pun intended). I really enjoy Brian’s voice in this as he has toned down the coarseness a tad.  This is in the running for the best tune on the album.  Way to finish strong!  Grade: A



To say that   ‘Broken Organ’ is a good album would be an understatement.  If you are a fan of the ska genre then ‘good albums’ (many of which I have reviewed on this site) are common, based on the flavor of ska you listen to.  If highly danceable, upbeat ska is your thing, than look no further.  The Duppies have given fans a lot to chew on with this 14 song album devoid of any fluff or filler songs.  I truly enjoyed every single song on here, which is saying a lot. I feel that a lot of bands that include a ton of songs on an album usually include a lot of experimentation with their sound, which often times can fall flat.  This is not the case here.  The Duppies have managed to keep each song sounding distinct from the one before it, yet never straying away from their brand of ska.  Brian Hebel works his magic vocally whether the song calls for a smoother sound (which I personally enjoy more) or a more gravely tone.   The instrumentation is also a standout here with excellent solos from almost everyone aboard.  This is one of the best albums I have heard in a while.  Earlier in the year I made a prediction for the best ska album of 2015.  If this does skank past the other for the top place, this is a close second. Show these guys some Duppy love and check this one out!


Overall Grade: A


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