Have you ever heard of Bucket of Fish? Well you have now! This San Diego 5-piece has a new album for your listening pleasure entitled ‘Level Up.’ Let’s give it a whirl, shall we?
- “Shouting Contest”- “Shouting Contest” begins with a garage rock feel and then quickly switches to a slower paced ska number. But wait, there’s more! The song changes again with double kick-pedal to create a more rockin’ sound near the end. Grade: B+
- “Friend of a Friend”- Excellent lead and backing vocals are found in this next song. There is a definite change of pace from the first track, with more of a smooth groove vibe. I dig! Grade: A-
- “January”- Ah yes, your classic 90’s third wave tune. You’ve heard this hundreds of times before, but have you heard it done this well? The answer is no! Great song. Grade: A-
- “Wrong Side of the Wall”- The horn section steals the slow with a twinge of Spanish flavor. I really dig the metal influenced instrumentation as well as the hair-metal inspired vocals just after the halfway point. Awesome! Grade: A
- “Overdrive”- This song has it all, from the tried and true ska guitar, to switching rhythms, to sweet vocal harmonies. Oh yeah, and the horns a great too! Grade: A-
- “FYIGT”-It’s only 46 seconds long, but you’d be wrong if you think this is a filler song. Grade: B
- “Year of No Resolutions”- Like several of the songs before it, “Year of No Resolutions” melds several different styles into one, switching things up periodically throughout. Another winner! Grade: A
- “Sorry”- If ska/punk and emo had a love child this is what it would sound like. Excellent merger between styles. Grade: A
- “Future Self”- Probably the “punkiest” sounding song on the entire album. A solid tune, but not my favorite. Grade: B+
Well kids, this one has me scratching my head a little bit. Not because I didn’t enjoy the songs on this album (we’ll get to this in a bit), but rather it is difficult to clearly define where to place this band. Sure they are a ska band at their core, however to the seasoned listener, it is not that simple. Many of songs have a punk element; however the songs as a whole seem a bit more polished than your average punk number. In addition, the lead vocalist lacks the typically crass-sounding voice of most punk singers (i.e. Less Than Jake). Maybe they are an up-tempo ska band (i.e. The Planet Smashers)? Sure there is that element as well, but I do not want to pigeon hole these guys here either. At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter. I really enjoyed this album for just that fact. I have been listening to ska for almost 20 years and there is a comfort found in certain elements of this wonderful genre of music we call ska. That being said I am also excited for this band that has not redefined the genre, but has tweaked things just enough to create their own signature sound. Overall this is a fantastic recording that will rival any of the bigger acts out there (ska or otherwise). The biggest standout here is probably the quality of the vocals, which at times almost seem out of place in the more punk tinged songs (should a punk singer really sound this good?). He is so pleasing to the ears that he has one of those voices that could pull off any style of music from country to American Idol-style pop. If that wasn’t enough, the backing vocals add even more depth to the already fantastic sound. I also really appreciated the craftsmanship of most of the songs, with their switching tempos and styles. The punchy horns and sweet vocals give them an almost Disney movie feel at times, much like the fun, fun songs from Suburban Legends. There are albums that are good and then there are albums that remind you why you listen to ska in the first place. This is one of those albums. So if you ready to ‘Level Up’ your ska collection, pick up the latest release from Bucket of Fish.
Overall Grade: A-
Check them out!