Ska is dead. Is ska dead? For many of us the answer is yes. I'm sure several of you reading this are doing so simply for nostalgia's sake - a trip down memory lane - having dismissed your love of ska in high school in much the same way you stopped wearing JNCO jeans past middle school. Both, now, are simply bad fashion. But we mustn't forget our roots and deny that we all, at one time or another, owned an OP IVY shirt and skanked it up in our bedrooms, singing the lyrics of "Sound System." But like the edgeman who is "true til twenty-one," many ska fans abandon their love for the genre upon leaving high school, effectively being "rude til eighteen." But for those who haven't traded in their two-tones to two-step, the question remains serious. Is ska dead?
Well no, but this brings us to a more serious question: does anyone care? Yes, but few of us between the ages eighteen and thirty five. Ska is a genre that effectively dismisses post-adolescents and early adults from its audience. If you're a ska fan today, right now at this moment you're likely to be one of two types of people. You are either an eccentric high school kid, who certainly doesn't belong to the "in" crowd or you're probably an older, hip person with a keen ear for good music, mostly jazz, who has redefined the meaning of the "in" crowd. With their newest disc, Strictly Rude, Big D and the Kids Table are stuck right in the middle, being pulled between these two identities.
Months, perhaps even years before the release of this album, lead vocalist Dave McWane said that the band would be making an album of comprising of nothing but dub songs. Strictly Rude is about half that, with tracks like "Deadpan" and the title track, "Strictly Rude." These songs demonstrate both Big D's ability to pay homage to some of the forefathers of ska like The Specials and The Toasters but also to showcase their talents in writing songs outside the power chord structure that is very much a part of the third wave style they have become identified with. These songs will surely please the more musically savvy listeners, the older jazz and ska fans, and perhaps the high school band kids who have some understanding of music theory. What about the rest of the fans, the majority of the fans, who just want some loud and fast music that is just a bit silly.
This brings us to the other half of the disc, which is the sound most of you who are familiar with Big D have come to love. A little less aggressive than the Suicide Machines but faster than bands like Less Than Jake, these songs are your typical third wave ska songs. Some have no punk parts, some have all punk parts, but most are a nice mix of the two. The album's opener "Steady Riot" and "Fly Away" are rowdy enough to make even the most jaded post rock fan, remember where he/she came from and start running around kicking both feet in an awkward fashion.
So okay the songs are good, but disjointed. The tracklisting makes it hard for a listener to really get into the moods of the album. Just as you're about to get all hyped and excited the album switches gears to a cool, laid back vibe. And it's just the opposite, it's almost impossible to feel the really laid back, relaxed vibe, with all the fast paced spastic songs placed intermittently throughout the album. If they were to release these songs as two EP's, each displaying one general style it would make for an all around better listening experience. If they refuse then they just might have to decide if they want to sit at the kids' table for the rest of their lives or start eating with all the grown-ups.
7.7 / 10
Posted May 8, 2013, 7:54 p.m.
Fellow webzine Dying Scene is offering up a free, downloadable ska compilation titled Skaface. The mix includes Mustard Plug, Big D And The Kids Table, and Mad Caddies, among others ...
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