Music Reviews

Closer Than You

Florida Ska, Volume 2

Citrus

The sequel to Moon’s Closer Than You has some of the same cast returning as the first, along with some newer talent that has cropped up in the meantime. A similar range of style is presented as the first time around, but with some different faces as the scene continues to evolve.

King 7 & the Soulsonics start off yet another comp, this time with a new song, “Alpha 66,” a sweet oldstyle traditional instrumental. With soulful playing like this, the vocals aren’t missed. Definitely one of Florida’s finest. Things continue strong with Magadog’s “Lita,” a great track from one of Florida’s longest-running ska bands. Taxi keeps the quality up with more smooth, traditional ska with nice horn work. This is such a good track, I’m surprised I haven’t heard more about them previous to this. The Double Agents start out slow and smooth then pick things up a bit for a third wave-ish “Candystore Girl.” The Strangeways are next with another great surprise in the form of “Lisa Brown Eyes.” Double Decker’s “Bus Stop” has a bit of a swing feel and is a lively good song. The Coldspot Eight follow with “Rough & Tough,” a soulful, roots-oriented ska song that reinforces their growing reputation as a band not to miss. Pork Pie Tribe’s “Uisge-Beatha (Whiskey)” blends second and third wave with Celtic influences, working the bagpipe in quite naturally.

Baker Act’s “By The Clock” is ska-punk along the lines of Less Than Jake and is catchy and good. Big Brother & the Thought Police’s “Welcome to Ft. Pierce” switches from swingy ska to blazing hardcore. Not as impressive as their live shows, and the vocals could use some work, but a decent track. Skif Dank re-visits their ska-punk standard “As Per Usual,” only a little faster and with a mid-song hip-hop interlude courtesy of the Nature Kids. Oddly enough, it works. The Usuals follow with “Hey Boy,” a song from their heart-shaped ten inch. Sweet, smooth traditional ska with wonderfully sung female vocals. Another of my personal favorites. Skahumbug’s “Skinhead Jean Sale” is a smooth instrumental from a band I haven’t heard too much from in a while. If this is any indication as to what they’ve been cooking up in their silence, keep it up.

Magik Dirt’s “Skankin’ By Your Friends” brings light-hearted third wave with a southern flavor. A little cheesy. The Savoys’ ska-punk “Not Going Back” doesn’t do much for me either. Moxie’s “You & Me” is more ska-punk, a little simple but with good hooks and something that makes it stick. Much improved from what I remember from their demo. Jack City Oldschool Carpool’s ‘Working Man’s Ska” is traditionally-styled with soul. Gigolo Big & the Barflies’ “Keep an Open Mind” had more funk than I could handle. Not for me. Upperoom’s “Swashbuckle” is third wave modern ska that doesn’t strike any of the right chords with me. The Progressions end things on a strong note, though, with “Jackson Street,” a smooth, soulful instrumental with some wonderful playing. Another band I hope to be hearing more about.

The variety is here. So is the talent. Ska fans of every persuasion, in state and out, should enjoy this very much. $12 postpaid. Citrus Records, P.O. Box 9403, Tampa, FL 33674-9403; http://www.floridaska.com/citrus


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