Shed Some Skin
I’d heard so many conflicting reports about Slow Gherkin that I wasn’t really sure what to expect when their second album, Shed Some Skin, showed up in the mailbox. Were they a punk band with a little ska thrown in, a ska band that rocks out, or just plain confused? Basically, though, after listening to Shed Some Skin a few times, I found that none of those labels really mattered. Slow Gherkin takes the best elements of ska, pop, and punk and blends them together for a charming and intoxicating brew that’s completely distinctive and infectious – but lest you think it’s all fun and games, check the lyric sheet, they’re singing about some serious stuff.
For example, “Turned Off” is sung from the point of view of a girl who has been drugged and date raped, but it’s a punky shout-along with catchy harmonies. “Left Behind” sounds like a cross between the Clash’s “London Calling,” Ozzy’s “Crazy Train,” and Madness’ “House of Fun” — with lyrics that make me think about the destruction of the environment (or it could just be the end of a relationship from the dumpee’s perspective – it’s pretty open to interpretation). “Another in Your Life,” a tune about making the most of every day, combines Weezer-esque keys with a nice Fugazi-flavored guitar riff and those driving horns. “Get Some More” may be the first song to marry the Cure to the Descendents, with a little Toasters thrown in for good measure. My favorite, though, is probably “How Now Lowbrow,” a boisterous song about apathy (how’s that for an oxymoron?). Other songs are more lighthearted, like the opening “Trapped Like Rats in Myers Flat,” a great life-on-the road tune with more energy than any three Less Than Jake tunes, and “Roger,” an ode to a cat. But overall, this is music to make you think while you dance.
If the combinations I’ve been talking about sound a bit dyslexic, rest assured they aren’t, nor does the band ever sound derivative. While Slow Gherkin may evoke the spirit of some other bands, the sounds they make are all their own. Shed Some Skin is a great record, and is highly recommended for anyone that likes a good melody, tasty harmonies, and an old fashioned good time, but isn’t afraid to think. Asian Man Records, P.O. Box 35585, Monte Sereno, CA 95030-5585; http://www.asianmanrecords.com