Tune into ‘Tropical TV’

Taking his name, presumably from his stomping ground of Escondido, CA, Esco Chris has been bringing his amalgamation of early reggae, ska and rocksteady to the people since 2000.  Released in November, is his latest offering entitled ‘Tropical TV.’  Let’s give it a listen…


  1. “Beach Cruising”-The name of this tune certainly embodies the overall spirit of this opening track. The organ sets the mood in this laid-back instrumental.  Grade: B+


  1. “The Boardwalk (feat. The Duppies)”- Traditional ska at its finest! The horn section really kicks this one up a notch.  “The Boardwalk” features excellent solos from the trumpet, sax and organ.  I really dig this one.  Grade: A


  1. “Buried Inside”- What do you know, another instrumental. The strength in this song is the usage of both organ and traditional piano, which is truly unique in this genre.  Great stuff!  Grade: A


  1. “Cool Feelings (feat. The Duppies)”- From the opening notes, you can tell that the Duppies had a hand in this. At its very core, this is a ska song; however, it has a certain 70’s flare to it.  The raspy vocals are a great touch.  Grade: A


  1. “Feel Alive”- Devoid of any horn section, the organ is front and center in “Feel Alive.” Again, the vocals here are the icing on the cake.  Grade: A


  1. “Lonesome Man”- The lead vocals fell a little flat with me, but overall this is a solid tune. The strongest part of this song is actually the backing vocals and sweet guitar solos.  Grade: B


  1. “Love and Affection”- Sure it has the traditional ska beat you’ve heard a million times, but this song is a winner. Once again, excellent use of both piano and organ here.  Style-wise, this reminds me quite a bit of the Dualers.  Grade: A-


  1. “No Running Boy”- This is not my favorite tune on the album. Instrumentally, Chris uses the tried and true ska/reggae elements, however lyrically; I just did not resonate with this one.  Grade: C


  1. “One Fine Day”- Chris keeps it short and sweet in this enjoyable instrumental. With the absence of a horn section there is more of a focus on the guitar here, which by the way is fantastic.  Grade: A-


  1. “Reggae Imposter vs The Aval- Clear away the smoke because this psychedelic infused ska number is a hit. The limited vocals only add fuel to the fire.  Think Boss Capone (’69 Reggae Bonanza album) meets “Ghost Town” from the Specials.  Great song!  Grade: A


  1. “Rocksteady Vacation”- There is nothing new or novel here, but rather a solid laid-back number, much like the others found on the rest of the album. Grade: B+


  1. “Rollin On”- If ever there was a radio-friendly song on this album, this would be the one. With the fantastic use of piano, crank this up to 11 while rollin’ in your Caddy!  Grade: A-


  1. “The Storm”- While not as strong a song as “Reggae Imposter vs. The Aval,” they are pretty similar, musically speaking. Both are instrumentals with a few vocals shouted in the background.  A decent way to close things off.  Grade: B


Thank you internet for allowing me to discover new bands and musicians effortlessly, allowing me to appreciate the fruits of their musical efforts.  While Esco Chris is certainly not new to the music scene, he is new to me.  If like me, you are new to the musical stylings of Chris, than you are in for a real treat with his newest release, ‘Tropical TV.’  This truly unique album takes the traditional ska and reggae framework, and makes subtle changes to enhance the experience, but not in a gimmicky way.  Truly West-coast at its core, this is a great album.  Not having a full-on horn section, allows for both the guitar and organ to truly shine.  Whether used during a guitar solo, or the dueling keys found in “Buried Inside” these instruments are used in ways that I have not seen in the ska genre before.   This being stated, I really enjoyed the few glimpses of blaring brass found on “The Boardwalk” and “Cool Feelings” from the Duppies.  The addition of the Duppie’s sound adds to but does not distract from the ‘Esco Chris experience.’  Finally, great songs are found in both the instrumentals as well as those with vocals.  This is not your skanking type ska, but rather the type you would listen to while hanging out with your bros at the beach.    Although I enjoyed almost every song on this album, I feel that this is one of those albums that will grow stronger with time.  I urge you to find out for yourself, and give these 13 glorious tracts a listen!


Overall Grade: A-


Check it out!



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