Are you ready for the ‘Big Shot?’

The Nashville-based, Soul Radics are set to release their second full length album, entitled “Big Shot”. The Soul Radics are an 8-piece, female fronted band playing ska of the traditional/rocksteady variety. After thoroughly enjoying their 2012 release, “Down to the Hall,” let’s see if “Big Shot” can hold its own, or if it will fall into the sophomore slump…
1. “Walk Your Own Line”-In this opening track the Soul Radics give fans a taste of what they have been craving since their last release. The organs quickly set the mood in this up-tempo number, making you want to head “down to the dance hall.” Grade: A

2. “Chance to be With You”- Everything about this song is crafted so nicely, from the organs to the horn parts. Dani’s vocals are top-notch as usual which pair nicely with guest vocalist Boss Van Trigt of Upsessions fame. This is another winner! Grade: A

3. “One Time”- Instrumentally, the horn section takes center stage in this ditty, with a nice little guitar solo to boot. If this song does not make you get out of your chair, I don’t know what will. Grade: A

4. “Really a Mess”-Alright kids, let’s slow things down a bit. This song will not blow you out your chair because of its quick tempo or over the top horn parts, but do not be fooled. This stripped down song showcases the pure talent of the band, from the saxophone solo to Dani’s vocals. Vocally, I think Dani shows her range on this number, more than any other (on any album). One word-amazing! Grade: A

5. “Stay”- Time to pick things up again. Following the same rocksteady formula as most of the aforementioned songs, this is a great “sing along” song. I also really enjoyed the added ‘who haa’ parts. With so many great songs, how is anyone to pick a favorite? Grade: A

6. “No Fool”- I must admit, the first time I heard this song a few weeks ago, I wasn’t sure about it. It didn’t seem to pack as much punch as many of the songs on ‘Down to the Hall.’ Now I can’t get this one out of my head! It also fits nicely with the other songs on the disc. Grade: A-

7. “Banzai”- “Banzai” is more or less an instrumental. The Soul Radics have managed to great a Hawaiian/Oriental hybrid that will make you want to get out your grandparent’s learn to dance foot charts. Grade: A-

8. “I Wanna Know”-Ahh, here is the classic ska guitar we all love. While I love when Dani sings solo, this song’s greatest strength are the duets that take place during the choruses. The horns are also more blaring in this song, more so than any other on the album. Grade: A

9. “My Baby’s Mine”- A change of pace is found in this jazzy, swing number. While not ska or reggae or rocksteady, this song fits in nicely with the others, letting Dani really belt things out! Grade: A-

10. “Mash Dem All”- Now it’s time for a little reggae. Dani channels her inner Rasta as she switches between growly and smooth vocals. What can I say, it’s another great song. Grade: A-

11. “Thread”- I don’t know what it is about the song, but it reminds me of a lot of the soft-rock hits of the 70’s and early 80’s. This is not a knock on this song, as I grew up listening to these songs as a kid and they still resonate with me today. I love this song! Grade: A

It is anxiety producing to review a follow up to an album that you enjoyed so much. After discovering the Soul Radics on the Skannibal Party 12 compilation, I knew that there was something both refreshing and exciting about this band. Their ‘Down the Hall’ album had been one of the best ska albums I had heard in a long, long time. Fast-forward to today; would this highly anticipated follow-up be a disappointment, or be the “Big Shot” they say it is? Well, if you haven’t already guessed, based on my grades, the Soul Radics have hit a homerun with this new album. Although they stick to their ska and reggae roots with this sophomore release, it definitely has a different feel to it. While there are brief glimpses of the feisty rudegirl found on ‘Down to the Hall,’ ‘Big Shot’ shows more of a sweet songbird in Mrs. Radic. Overall, there is more of a polished feel to this album but to choose this album over their debut would be impossible, as they both bring something uniquely different to the table. Also to note, this album is just as enjoyable the on the first listen as it is on the 10th. The instrumentation, is once again top notch, using each instrument to its full potential. I absolutely love this album and I can’t get the songs out of my head even after the stereo has been turned off. If you only buy one album this year, it should be this one! Overall Grade: A


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