Skarmageddon 4

Skarmageddon 4

Various Artists

Moon SKA NYC

The venerable Skarmageddon series is back for a fourth outing. These two disc sets have a distinguished record of bringing talented young ska bands to national attention: past graduates include Skavoovie & the Epitones, the Slackers, the Skalars, the Articles, the Skoidats, Mustard Plug, Spring Heeled Jack… well, you get the picture! Volume 4 looks to be no exception — I’d be interested in hearing more from most of the 40 bands contained herein!

The first disc contains two bands worthy of the Most Likely to Succeed honors: the Undercovers, whose “Sipping Sunshine” is pure pop-ska heaven, and the Late Shows, whose charming, soulful “Hey You Little Boy” should provide the background for Padme’s scenes with Anakin in The Phantom Menace . They’re hardly the only standouts, though. The Squids’ “Bottle Cap” has all the atmosphere of the Kinks’ classic “Come Dancing,” while Judge Roughneck’s “Rude One” and Radio Noise’s “Jack Friday” are tasty shout-alongs. Dominant Seven’s smooth “A While” rocks steady, with a striking counterplay between the male and female voices and a pretty flute line. Meanwhile, the Israelites’ offer trad-style prolesthetizing on “Wise Man,” Umbrella Bed sound uncannily like Magadog on “Prepare” (I swear, their singer is channeling his inner Jim Pedigo), and the Kinetics’ impress with their incredible, soul-infused “Great White North.” I also really dug tracks from Step Lively, Kingpins, One Too Many, the Soulutions!, Skavossas, Skadatel, Hollywood Rivals, and a previously released track from Rocker T & the Version City Rockers.

The second disc features plenty of striking work, too. Skabba the Hut have definitely improved since I heard them last — this take on “Fat Guy on My Head” is light-years ahead of the live version featured on Oi!/Skampilation 3 . The Diablotones’ “Ecuador” is an evil-sounding Mexican footstomper, while the Blue Roots throw in the jazzy instrumental “J. B. Haley, Jr.” Conehead Buddha’s “Whatchya Doin’? (Live)” is too catchy for its own good, as is “Itty Bitty White Lie,” from the Freakin’ Cads. There are also strong tracks from Seven-to-One, Short Millie, and the Smokers, and fantastic previously released tunes from Deal’s Gone Bad and Slow Gherkin, but three of the strongest tracks on disc 2 are the dubby numbers that close it out. Crazy Baldhead’s “Don’t Turn Your Back” is downright haunting, with a clear, almost eerie female voice that cuts to your core — surely, they’re another band to watch closely. Ska über-producer Victor Rice’s “NST” is a preview of his upcoming solo debut, and it’s everything you’d expect from an artist of his caliber. Finally, Abdul Baki slows it down to a reggae tempo with “Kongo Drum Dub,” which features skilled percussion work.

All in all, Skarmageddon 4 is another winner in the classic series. I can’t wait until some of these bands start releasing full-lengths — certainly, there’s some classic music on the horizon! Remember, kids — you found ’em here first!

Moon SKA NYC, P.O. Box 1412, Cooper Station, New York, NY 10276; http://www.moonska.com

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