Ska-Line A Round Up of The Global Ska Scene 23rd May 2021
Been living with the new Bim Skala Bim album for a couple of weeks now. Sonic Tonic is the Boston outfit's 13th album and it is a belter. From the off, the sound is characteristically BSB but something different about it. It's taken a while but it's the production which lifts this album above its predecessors. Another sweetener is the fact that the whole album has been gifted to The Specialized Project to raise much needed funds for the Teenage Cancer Trust and will be launched May 30th. Stand out tracks for me are Loon - a down and dirty groover, Lightning (last week's Featured This Week track) upbeat and infectious, Paul Ayriss from Specialized under his pen name of the Tinkerman also features with a cool mix of the songs - a nice touch indeed. Keep an eye on the Specialized page for the launch party.
Also out last week was the new Voodoo Glow Skulls album. The band have undergone a few changes over the past few years and there are some who miss Frank Casillas' vocals but I think that Efrem Schulz has filled the boots well. Chatting with someone the other day I likened it to the difference between AC/DC's Bon Scott and Brian Johnson - both great vocalists for their genre but slightly different without distracting from the original sound.
Anyway - I digress- Livin' the Apocalypse is freaking awesome! Hard, heavy and impossible to sit still to. Right from the off Make America Skank Again hits you with an aural juggernaut and the pace doesn't let up in Generation Genocide. The title track has more of a Who Is This... vibe but our absolute favourite is All In My Head. The timing changes, the harmonies, the horn section, the anthemic chorus - classic VGS. Vinyl available at Epitaph Records or https://www.voodooglowskullsofficial.com/ CDs releasing soon.
California's Mento Buru have put out a new 3 track EP - Renegade Fight Song - in 2 versions. One ska, one punk. It turns out that this is the Bakersfield College song written in the early 50s but given the MB treatment. A very cool 50s ska/jazz vibe to it too.
New The Toasters single drops next week! Jacka Jacka Wo! is a little different to their usual fayre. A slowed down tempo with the song credited to Skafari, Gimma and The Toasters on the Skandal 2 which releases 28th May 2021. A Swiss sung song about losing your coat on a night out. A real sense of fun comes through with the base song loosely hooked on East Side Beat - we look forward to hearing the rest of the EP. On all streaming platforms - no news of physical copies just yet but have seen a picture of a CD case...
Staying with the Swiss vibe - The Mountaineers have released a beautiful early reggae single Better Let It Go featuring the soulful vocals of Lady Lozzy on Better Let It Go b/w Bitter Soul which is reminiscent of The Upsetters. This needs to be played on vinyl which can be purchased on https://www.tipatoprecords.com/shop or at their Bandcamp page. So much good stuff coming out of Switzerland!
Lovers Rock Queen Carroll Thompson has had a brace of singles in the last two weeks. First we were treated to Feel The Magic on Happy People Records and now Dance With Me on Fajador Records. Feel The Magic is a classic sounding Lovers Rock tune whilst Dance With Me is an original rocksteady tune but they are both spot on
Next - an album that has found its way onto repeat on the iPod - Music For The People by Intergalactic Brasstronauts. Okay this is something very VERY different. King Zepha has traded many of the traditional instruments for a 7 piece brass section. It may be that I grew up in the time of Ivor the Engine but there is something about a big brass section. Trading the bass guitar for a sousaphone is a stroke of genius. My woofers may never truly recover from this. The album is largely a reworking of King Zepha's back catalogue and the frankly fantastic Northern Sound, this lifts it to a whole new level. There's also a bloody melodica in there - this is hitting me for every ska trigger I have.
Such a satisfying sound. The first half is pretty slow and at times dubby but it's like wrapping yourself in a great big fluffy dressing gown on a cold winter morning (plus coffee with maple syrup in it.) All cool - chilled - soothing but then comes Al Baba and that brass picks it up a pace and it is non-stop skanking for the remaining 8 tracks. The Mother Of All Hangovers is one of our KZ tracks and this versions kicks the stuffing out of the original. A truly outstanding piece of work. What I especially love about the second half of the album is - I have made an iTunes playlist of just those tunes and set it to shuffle, there is no break between the tracks and how it's recorded it could play for hours as one continuous track and I would never tire of it. Contender for album of the year? Maybe... Releases July
A name we have heard for a while now in the ska-punk / ska-core circles is Joystick operating outta Louisana. Their 5th album' I Can't Take It Any More' released last month on Bad Time Records and it is quite the beast. Big crunchy guitars paired with a solid brass section and a punk attitude make great bedfellows here. The punk side would not be out of place on mid 90s Lookout records catalogue with the great licks bursting through. This is not punk rock with horns, the horn section is placed skilfully to enhance the harder sound and well considered staccato upbeats give this album plenty of variety.
If you dig Call Me Malcolm, Frenzal Rhomb, Kill Lincoln, Redeemon you really should check this out. Skaheads who are a bit wary of the punkier stuff, check out the tracks Rinse and Repeat and the sublime parallelograms.
Being an old punker - something rather exciting caught my eye on Friday... and out come the lawsuits. Only 2 tracks available at the moment BUT the Link 80s version of Junkie Man (also covered by Death of Guitar Pop the other week) is soooooo good. Very much looking forward to this! In the labels own words 'Rancid’s genre-defining 1995 album, ...And Out Come The Wolves, was an unexpected, cataclysmal explosion of punk into the mainstream. Countless bands and musicians since, from Anti-Flag to Worriers, have cited this record as their introduction to the genre and the entire world of punk music and DIY. To honor Wolves’ impact on the music we make today, nineteen bands have come together to reimagine the album, connected through the DIY ethos they learned from this record. ...And Out Come The Lawsuits! is a 25th anniversary album running on punk time, releasing June 4th, 2021* on Lavasocks and Sell The Heart Records.' Very much looking to hear what artists like Matamoska, Flying Raccoon Suit and Omnigone can do with one of the greatest ska-punk albums of all time. Releases June 4th
Do The Dog Music / The Bakesys
The 2nd single & title track from The Bakesys' upcoming new "Sentences I'd Like To Hear The End Of" album is out now! You can download the single for free here: dothedogmusic.bandcamp.com/track/sentences-id-like-to-hear-the-end-of-2 You can also check out the promo video for the single here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=ehihMc9tUvo
From 11:30 Sunday 23rd May 2021 catch
The Mountaineers (from Switzerland's amazing ska scene)
LINK 80 covering a Rancid classic
Mento Buru's new single
Another pre-release track by Bim Skala Bim Music
Another track from the brand new Voodoo Glow Skulls album
New music from Natasha Marie and Brad Turner - CAF Studios
and a classic Operation Ivy tune twice a day on www.buttondownradio.com
Check out our Bandcamp collection at https://bandcamp.com/buttondownradio
Check out the best of this year's ska vids at - https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLmpaxFQpPPFyuFitZ2sjNGhGiYooA-Pen
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And whatever you do... KEEP SKANKING and listening to Button Down Radio
Matamoska Flying Raccoon Suit Omnigone Bim Skala Bim King Zepha Voodoo Glow Skulls The Mountaineers Carroll Thompson Skaffolding LINK 80 Rancid Skandals Mento Buru's
Natasha Marie and Brad Turner CAF Studios Joystick redeemon Call Me Malcolm Bad Time Records Epitaph Records Happy People Records Fajador Records The Specialized Project Intergalactic Brasstronauts Death of Guitar Pop Skafari Gimma The Toasters The Bakesys