Tune Your Dial to “FM” with the Skints!

Who are the Skints you may ask? They are a 4 piece band from London, blending several musical styles including ska (of course). This latest release entitled “FM” follows an EP released last year and two full lengths. Let’s have a listen…

1. “Fm: DJ Mr. Versatile Breakfast Show”-[Alright, we are tuning are radios, now get ready for the show].

2. “This Town (feat. Tippa Irie & Horseman)”- Smooth vocals begin this mixture of reggae and hip hop, while Marcia Richardson’s voice cuts in early to rap over top. The drum machine beats and effects add to the overall feel, with some dub thrown in for good measure. To close, I enjoy the guest vocalist as he could be a dead ringer for Shaggy. Grade: B

3. “In the Night (feat. Horseman)”- More of a reggae number is found in “In the Night.” The vocals here are oozing with talent, both alone, as well as when paired with harmonization. Horseman adds that extra something near the midpoint. I love, love, love this song! Grade: A

4. “Come to You”- The organ creates a quirky traditional ska number with Marcia leading the way on the microphone. Definitely more on the soulful side; this song shines on every level. Grade: A

5. “My War”- This is your classic reggae number with smooth melodies and excellent male vocals. The organ rises to the challenge once again producing tones not found in traditional ska or reggae songs. Great stuff! Grade: A

6. “Fm: Dancehall Dilemmas with Dr. Ranking Pegasus”- [Another radio show track].

7. “Friends & Business”- The Skints rock it in this true-to- form ska song. There is no horn section, but they get the job done with the low roar of the organ and guitar solo. Also the la-la-la part is a nice homage to “Ghost Town” by the Specials. Grade: A

8. “Where Did You Go?”- Like “This Town,” there is a nice mix of reggae and hip hop, but the hip hop in this track is more subtle. This is a cool summer jam to be listened to with drink in hand. Grade: A

9. “Tazer Beam (feat. Tippa Irie)”- To open the song, the “tazer-like” organ compliments the guitar. This song works beautifully without Tippa, however he doesn’t take away from the song either. Grade: B+

10. “The Forest for the Trees”- So I am beginning to think that the flute is more commonplace than I thought. This is the third review that I’ve done that has used this underrated instrument. Marcia, Jamie Kyriakides and Josh Waters Rudge all share the singing spotlight in this slower jam. Also the dub factor is not overdone. Grade: A-

11. “Fm: Grime Hour with Rivz”-[Another radio show track].

12. “Eyes in the Back of My Head (feat. Rival)”- Smooth as silk vocals are paired with the rapping of Rival. Overall, it is a pretty solid number, but not my favorite because it leans more towards hip-hop then to ska or reggae. Grade: B

13. “Got No Say”- This is another great example of great harmonization as well as switching between male and female vocalist. “Got No Say” has kind of an island vibe to it. I dig it! Grade : B

14. “Fm: DJ Mr. Versatile Evening Session”- [The last of the radio show tracks]

15. “Tomorrow”- Soul mixed with just the right amount of hip-hop. The Skints finish with a bang! Grade: A-

I must admit, I had not heard of the Skints until a couple of months ago. My first exposure was the single “This Town,” and I thought, “Okay, this is a rap group with a reggae beat. Not really my thing.” I could have just ignored this album altogether, but I decided to review it anyway. I am so glad I did. First of all I love albums that try to create an experience rather than being just a collection of songs. The Skints do just that. From the artwork to the several radio show tracks throughout, you feel as if you are part of a live broadcast. This band also blends several musical styles from rock, reggae, ska and hip hop/rap to create a truly unique sound. It is true that I am no fan of rap or hip hop, but the Skints are not downgraded for this, as this is personal preference. In addition, even the rap elements (in my opinion) are never overbearing, as they complement the rest of the song perfectly. There is also a certain smooth quality to the straight up reggae and ska tunes. Instrumentally, this is a joy to listen to but the Skints greatest strength lies in the vocal trifecta of Marcia Richardson, Jamie Kyriakides and Josh Waters Rudge. A vocalist can be the deciding factor whether I enjoy a band or not, so to find a band with three talented voices is almost unheard of. The Skints have found a new fan in me. “FM” may not be for the ska purest, but I urge everyone to open their minds (and their wallets) to pick up this latest effort by the Skints.

Overall Grade: A-

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