A Gift Before I Go
This is the band Nick Traina was in after leaving Link 80, so I was expecting ska-punk. There is some of that, but there’s also some fast, straight-ahead punk rock and growl-vocaled stompy hardcore styles represented as well. The mix of styles is pulled off well, and should please those with broader tastes than just the standard ska-punk. I wish I could have seen these guys live — it’s great going from dancing to a ska song to some fast, furious hardcore singalong with crazy breakdowns. Fun, energetic, catchy stuff.
This is, for the most part, a very positive record, both in their own songs and in their ska cover of Desmond Dekker’s “Unity.” It’s the last track that’s so damn haunting. “Gnat (I’m All Alone)” is a quiet song with raspy, soft vocals accompanied only by subdued guitar and bass. The lyrics are very poignant and strong, made even more so in light of Nick’s untimely death. It leaves you with chills. This record is dedicated to his memory, with the proceeds going to benefit mental health, music, and child-related causes, as well as other charitable organizations. Asian Man Records, P.O. Box 35585, Monte Sereno, CA 95030-5585; http://www.asianmanrecords.com