Music I’m listening and you should be too.
My music selection has been awfully hectic lately. I went through a two week phase where all I wanted to hear was some form of ska, and while that is still part of my daily listening regiment. I’ve been more obsessed with leaving my iTunes on shuffle for the past few days just to see how many types of music I really have.
The truth is, I have a ton. 5,198 songs. 14.4 days. I wish I could tell you how many different artists and how many albums, but I don’t see that function on iTunes and I don’t feel like counting. Instead, I’ll just give you 3 ska albums I’ve been listening to and a little bit of information about them.
Westbound Train Transitions
This album is absolutely incredible and has already worked its way into my top five of all time. A third wave ska band with roots deep into reggae and original ska, the Boston-based Westbound Train is a band with a sound unheard in today’s age. Obi Fernandez’s voice is absolutely mesmerizing and incomparable. The band has a standard ska set-up: Vocals, Guitar, Bass, Keyboard, Drums, and Horns, but the sound is unlike any associated with today’s bands like Reel Big Fish and Streetlight Manifesto. The songs are typically chill and speak about life’s problems (“I’m No Different”), but sometimes they can pick it up and play real soulful, like in “The Runaround.” The horn section is tight and relaxed, and guitarist John DeCarlo can easily switch between relaxed offbeat ska sound (“Good Enough” to bluesy solos (“The Runaround”). All in all this album is extremely infectious and once it gets into your collection there’s a very small chance you’ll ever put it away. The new sound brings you in, but the mood and vocals keep you coming back over and over again.
Key songs: The Runaround; For the First Time; Seven Ways to Sunday
If you only have time for one song: I’m No Different
Suburban Legends Dance Like Nobody’s Watching
While Westbound Train takes ska back to its roots, Suburban Legends pushes ska into a different realm. I must admit, the first time I saw this band live, I couldn’t stand them. With influences including *N’sync, the Spice Girls, and Prince, this is not your typical “ska” band. In fact, I have a hard time labeling them as a ska band. I would call their music Disco-Dance-Pop-Ska-Rock, seriously. That is the only way to describe this sound. Their live show is a wild one with lots of choreographed dances, but after one or two listens to the album, I’m kicking myself for not purchasing it at the show. Why? Because I haven’t had this much fun listening to an album before. Its catchy, its slightly annoying, its corny, but above all else, it moves you. Maybe it won’t move you emotionally, but songs like “Hey DJ” and “This Cherry” will get your body in motion. The piano ballad “Bright Spring Morning” should also be noted because it is a step in the different direction for this band, who has its roots deep in disco, pop, ska, rock, and above all else, FUN.
Key songs: This Cherry; Bright Spring Morning; Golden Touch
If you only have time for one song: Hey DJ
Save Ferris It Means Everything
If No Doubt never hit it big, Monique Powell may be remembered as the modern day female voice of ska. As the lead singer for California based Save Ferris, her strong voice set her apart from the other ska-punk bands of the mid-to-late 1990s. This band is also your typical modern ska set up, vocals, guitar, bass, drums, horn section, but the horns have a unique sound that also helps separate this band from the rest. The horn lines are jumpy and the songs are catchy, and it is easy to listen to and remember. There are the fun songs: “Superspy”, “Spam”, even a cover of “Come On Eileen”; as well as more traditional subject matter in such tunes as “The World is New” and “Lies”. The follow up album Modified was nowhere near as good and the band eventually broke up in 2002. However, this album is a must-listen for all fans of 3rd generation ska.
Key songs: Come On Eileen; Nobody But Me; Superspy
If you only have time for one song: The World Is New
Well, there you have it. 3 albums I’ve been listening to a lot lately. I’ll post more as I feel like it. Tell me what you think!