When one of the best bands in Florida finally releases their long-awaited debut CD, it’s cause to celebrate. When that band is the Usuals, not only is it a cause to celebrate, it’s time to get out your dancin’ shoes! The Usuals have been wowing audiences with their unique ska sound for years now, but had only a 7-inch and a few comp appearances to show for it. The wait for a full-length had been almost unbearable, but it was worth it!
Julie Esbjorn’s stunning, exuberant vocals are one of the band’s chief assets. Clear as a bell, they capture so much enthusiasm that you can’t help but be caught up in the moments, whether it be the longing of “Carry On” or “Rocket Power,” the party-time atmosphere of “At Shirley & Juicy’s,” or the exciting mystery of “Orange Boy.” That’s not to belittle the band’s instrumental prowess, though. The Usuals are an amazingly tight and accomplished band, and are equally at home without vocals, as tracks like “Down for the Count” and “St. John’s (The Lazy River)” clearly attest. Shannon Gordon puts most of the state’s bass players to shame, and the four piece horn section (Aram Shelton, Mike Bovenzi, Tom Falvey, and John Cotter) pepper the songs with just the right amount of seasoning, without overwhelming them. Helping matters even more is the perfect balance to the record’s sound, thanks to the mixing work of King Django of Stubborn All-Stars and Skinnerbox fame. The entire record is a peppy good time, from start to finish. Don’t listen unless you’re prepared to have fun!
If you’ve ever seen the Usuals live, you already know you have to have this record. If you haven’t, trust me when I say that you need the Usuals in your life! This record is better than a sunny day for bringing a smile to your face and a snap to your step. All those A&R schlubs mucking about Central Florida looking for the next Sister Hazel or Matchbox 20 would be a lot better off ditching that crap and seeking these boys and girls from Gainesville out. No Idea, P.O. Box 14636, Gainesville, FL 32604-4636, http://members.aol.com/usualsska/index.htm