Release The Apes!

Aside from their Facebook page, I know relatively little about The Apes FLA. What I do know, is that they play a blend of traditional ska and reggae and are from Tampa, Florida. They have been signed to Citrus Records and have dropped their debut album this past September. So without further ado, I bring you “Release The Apes”…

1. “Ape Theme”-A drum-heavy intro gets your heart poundin’ from the get go. I dig the smooth guitar as well as the backing horns. The monkey noises are a definite plus. In my opinion, every band needs its own theme song. Grade: B+

2. “Ape Bomb”-This song kicks things up to second gear. With prominent brass and a more subtle saxophone in the background, this song is dripping with soul. Watch out for the sweet sax solo at 3:30. The only thing I didn’t like about “Ape Bomb” is that the lyrics are redundant which makes the song feel way too long. Grade: A-

3. “Mountains”-This is a cool, groovy number. Sweet harmonies and a guitar solo, make this an enjoyable, laid-back listening experience. Grade B+

4. “Checkered Past”- As the name suggests, “Checkered Past” is a straight up skankin’ song. A fine use of saxophone which is contrasted with the more prominent brass instrumentation. I dig this one a lot! Grade: A

5. “Boogie With the Taliban”- The lyrics are kind of lame and redundant much like the first song. On the other hands, I like the instrumentation of the song. All in all this is a fairly decent song, just not my favorite. Grade: B-

6. “Don’t Do Me Like That”-This is a mix of swanky horns with a traditional Jamaican vibe. This song may not make you want to get up and dance, but certainly it will make you excitedly tap your toe with a brew in hand. Grade: B

7. “Apes Take Miami”- Wait, put that beer down, and start dancing to this instrumental number with a great horn solo at the 1:28 mark. This song has traditional ska written all over it and is a definite winner. Grade: A

8. “Great Communicator Reggae”- This song has a dark, dirty, “I recorded this in a woodshed” sort of feel. Also at 1:35, it is the shortest track on the disc. To me this is a filler song that I just did not enjoy. Sorry guys. Grade: D

9. “Duppies Following Me”-This one starts out with a 90’s ska kind of feel and then slows the tempo a bit. The female backing vocals certainly add a lot to this number, and are a nice contrast to the raspiness of the lead singer. Grade A-

10. “End of the Story”- Normally I am not a huge fan of using effects (autotune and the like) on vocals, but for “End of the Story” it just works. This is a big-brassy song with a slower tempo. So far this is the best song on the disc. Grade: A

11. “With Love from Django”- This is a stripped down song featuring only vocals, guitar and a drum beat. The Apes did an excellent job at creating a song that feels as if it could have been on the actual Django Unchained Soundtrack (which I am a huge fan of by the way). Nice job! Grade: B+

12. “Apes Take No Prisoners”- I was half expecting another instrumental, but alas, another groovy number which features not only the lead singer, but a female vocalist as well. She is excellent and makes me want to listen to this one over and over. Grade: A

13. “Apes Take Manhattan”- Here is the instrumental that I was looking for with a “Guns of Navarone” kind of feel. Another scorcher with awesome trumpet and sax solos. Grade A:

14. “Ape Noise”- A collection of Ape songs from movies (Planet of the Apes?). Certainly not necessary, as this is not a song, but it adds to the overall motif of the album. Grade: B

Clinging to the theme of their namesake, “Release the Apes” is an album you experience rather than listen to. While there are certainly a few snags along the way (The Greater Communicator Reggae), this a great mix of both great instrumentals and vocal songs as well. The horns are prominent and in your face during most of the songs. While I did not resonate with the lead vocalist at times (personal preference), I can draw comparisons to similar vocalists in the ska business (The Aggrolites and Soul Pains). My only other gripe with “Release The Apes” is the awesomely smooth female vocals found on “Apes Take No Prisoners” came as bit of a surprise, as she is not featured prominently in any other songs. She can be heard backing several other songs on the disc, but she certainly shines as a co-lead vocalist. Don’t keep this musical weapon bottled up! I would like to hear more of her on future albums. In short, this is a great debut from a band that shows much potential. I look forward to listening to this one over and over again. So should you! Overall Grade: B+/A-

So what did you think? Share it my friend!

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