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May 23, 2024

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Land of the Bigfoot Ska
Ska from Bigfoot Country (Simmerdown Productions)

By: Alex Steininger

Straight from Bigfoot Country (Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia) comes the first compilation (and only) to showcase the rising ska scene in this area. And you thought the only thing that came out of this area was Seattle's grunge! But believe it or not, ska scenes are popping up in cities all over our great nation, and Bigfoot country is no exception. Not only is their a ska scene starting up, it is also very diverse. From your traditional and two-tone bands, to modern day ska fans putting a spin on the old and creating the new (the 3rd wave), to ska influenced punk (ska-core) this area has it all to offer! And Simmerdown Productions is helping pioneer the movement, by bringing you this compilation!

The CD contains twenty two tracks, and over seventy one minutes of music! Fourteen up and coming ska bands including the Cherry Poppin' Daddies, Franceska, Easy Big Fella, The Readymen, Engine 54, and The Investigators contribute their music to the CD! With plenty to choose from, I believe the standout tracks are: Cherry Poppin' Daddies "Dave's Pie Shoppe/Cosa Nostra," both of Franceska's tracks "Would You be Mine?" and "Diego," Easy Big Fella with "Rumpshaker," and The Investigators' "Evil Twin." The Cherry Poppin' Daddies contribute two songs (but it is listed as one, since the first song is just a sixty second piano intro.) Cosa Nostra starts off with some nice guitar that gives you the feeling someone is creeping up on you, and then the ska guitar kicks in and some nice horns are introduced. And then when vocals enter, you can't peel your ears from the speakers. The music takes over everything you are feeling and makes you feel every word that is coming out of the speakers. Next up, Franceska with "Would You be Mine?" and "Diego." Some nice ska in the style of two tone with exceptionally great female vocals! I am such a sucker for female vocals. Her voice makes your body tingle with enjoyment. You can feel every emotion that she is singing about, and you want to be there to comfort her and help her. The vocals are that powerful. The whole mood is centered around her vocals. Tremendously brilliant, to say the least! Every word that comes out of her lips is so gentle and soothing. Franceska gives you a warm feeling, and they make you want to get up and dance! Once you start listening, you can't go back! You just keep on coming back for more. Easy Big Fella, and their contribution "Rumpshaker," contribute their jazz infected ska sure to please! A brilliantly crafted horn section, just a touch or harshness to the vocals, and a good danceable beat make this a song to keep your eye on. And the other standout track, The Investigators "Evil Twin," adds some upbeat flavor to the CD. A very upbeat, third wave ska song with full horns, and a beat that will keep your feet stomping up to the very end! And their is a suprise at the end of the CD as well! A twenty third track. Can you guess you it is? You'll have to buy the CD to take a stab at it.

Simmerdown Productions has put together a great compilation of the Bigfoot Country. The only flaws that are on the disc, is standard problem with compilations. Some outstanding tracks that tend to carry the album, and some other tracks which flounder with the other tracks trying their hardest to support the extra weight. Engine 54's "Skinhead Train," and "Berry Chokin' Robin" are low quality, boring tracks. Compared to the rest of the CD, you just want to hit the skip button each time they come on. Come to think of it, the more traditional songs take away some of the flavor of this CD, with their low-fi, less energetic contributions. I realize that seven of these bands are making their CD debut on this CD, and the money to use greater studios for recording isn't always there, but in my mind they take away from the overall energy of the album. But, don't worry! There are only a few tracks that kill the momentum set up by great bands like Franceska, Cherry Poppin' Daddies, The Readymen, and The Investigators. I would have to give this CD an overall score of B+. I truly recommend this CD to anyone who is curious about what ska music is coming out of the western part of the nation (excluding California.) Give it a try, you won't regret it!

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