X Marks the “SKASpot”

 

 

 

 

Any rabid fan of the ska genre has been to skaspot.com.  The website is the brainchild of Andy Jeter and devotes itself to the promotion of the ska scene.  Aside from the website, Andy has been hard at work with the Skaspot radio app as well as a new compilation album in which he crowdsourced through Kickstarter.com.  This Compilation entitled ‘ SKAspot Selections: Vol. 1’ features bands from across the globe.  Let’s give it a listen…

 

 

  1. “Shake and Move” (The Duppies)- Off of one the  best ska albums of 2015, The Duppies put together a traditional number that will make you want to “shake and move your body” for sure.  The horn section takes center stage with fantastic solos from the trumpet and saxophone.  Great song!  Grade: A

 

  1. “Love You Crazy” (Rude King)- If you love female-fronted ska than look no further than Rude King.  The soulful stylings of lead songstress Vicki Tovar matched with the on par horn section make this one enjoyable tune.  Think easy listening+ ska.  Awesome!  As a side note, see these guys live, they rock.  Grade: A

 

  1. “Simma Down Rudi” (Urang Matang)- A sleepy little tune is found in “Simma Down Rudi”  While this is definitely a slower number, it is enjoyable none the less.  Grade: B+

 

  1. “The Hydrogen Jukebox” (The Snails)- There is some great organ work on “The Hydrogen Jukebox” paired with and old-time rock and roll feel.  It is not really a dancing song and is slightly more up-tempo than the usual slower fair.  Grade: B

 

  1. “Appreciation” (Bullbuckers)- Well, this is my first exposure to the Bullbuckers.  Drawing its inspiration from the Dixieland jazz sound, “Appreciation” quickly changes to the more familiar ska sound with varying tempos.  The horns and vocal harmonies here are fantastic, along with the slight dub element as well.  Grade: A-

 

  1. “Love Flame” (Chris Murray Combo)- After hearing some of Chris Murray’ songs on other compilations, I have never been that much of a fan. “Love Flame” however is a simple little tune with well-placed backing vocals.  Void of any horns, this is your bare-bones ska song, which just seems to work.  Grade: B+

 

  1. “Hard Headed” (The Pandemics)- The east-coast ska sound shines through from these New York natives. Lead singer, Chris Malone lends his raspy voice to this big-band take on the genre.  Grade: A-

 

  1. “Rudies Don’t Care” ( Rude City Riot)- Why have I not listened to Rude City Riot earlier?  I really dig the 90’s third wave sound with punchy horns and an organ to boot!  This is a cross between Suburban Legends and The Crombies.  Grade: A-

 

  1. “Shut Your Mouth” (The Ska Vengers)- Musically, this is a “Coffee shop” take on  the ska genre.  Vocally,  the female lead reigns supreme with her hauntingly hypnotic voice.  Put those two together, and you have yourself a truly fantastic song.  Grade: A

 

  1. “Nelson Mandela” (Amsterdam Faya Allstars)- Based on talent alone, The Amsterdam Faya Allstars are some of the best musicians in the genre.  Their use of horns is second to none.  This being stated, with the nonsensical lyrics, is one of my least favorite songs from these guys.  Grade: B

 

  1. “Copenhagen City Reggae” (Leo and the Lineup)- I love Leo and the Lineup!  Organ heavy ska meets soul in this and all of  their other tunes.  Alone they are a great ska band, however it is the female backup singers that really set them apart.  Grade: A

 

  1. “Swim” (The Freecoasters)-After announcing their Kickstarter campaign, I instantly became excited about this newer band. Most the songs featured in the campaign were more up-tempo but “Swim” is a pleasant surprise.  I really love the power female vocals in this slower song.  Grade: A

 

  1. “Easy Man” (Pilfers)- For some reason, I never really got into the Pilfers either.  Maybe it’s because I have no idea what Coolie Ranx is saying most of the time.  Musically, however, this song is solid.  Grade: B

 

  1. “My Day” (Bargain Bin Heroes)- The most punk infused song thus far has a little bit too much going on for me. The Bargain Bin Heroes are a great band, but this song does not do it for me.    Grade: B-

 

  1. “Life in Limbo” (The Resignators)- The gruff vocals and organ in “Life in Limbo” make this one feel like a song that should be played on Halloween night.  Let’s not forget to mention the horns—top notch!  Grade: B+

 

  1. “Checkered Past” (The Apes FLA)- And you thought you could make it through an entire compilation without an instrumental? Guess again.  The Apes lay down a scorcher with this one.  Grade: A

 

  1. “Lon Chaney” (Western Standard Time Ska Orchestra)- What a way to end an album. This is another horn-heavy instrumental that will not disappoint.  Grade: A-

 

 

 

The main reason I like to listen to compilations is to discover new bands.  With the exception of the Bullbuckers I had at least some familiarity with every other band featured on ‘SKAspot Selections: Vol. 1.’   To the fair-weather ska fan, this album is an excellent way to familiarize yourself with some great ska staples found right here in the US of A as well as some possibly lesser known international acts as well.  For the ska diehard such as myself, this is still as essential album to get.  This compilation is jam-packed with top-notch songs with no fillers.  This album also does not fall into the trap that many other compilations have: trying to appeal to everyone by offering several of other musical styles such as hardcore and straight up punk.  No, this is purely a ska album, without apologies.  If you are a ska-punk purist, you may be a little disappointed as this sub-genre is represented in only a handful of songs.  For those that prefer your sound more on the traditional side, this is a rare treat that you must download right away.  Thank you Andy for this great comp and I am looking forward to SKAspot Selections: Vol. 2!”

 

Overall Grade: A-

 

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