Willis (Hellcat Records)
By: Alex Steininger
After years of touring and working as hard as they could, The Pietasters have earned their spot on the Hellcat Records roster. Playing a very diverse mix of old school R&B, Motown, Caribbean rhythms, and rock n' roll all cooked over a juicy bed of ska these guys are here to show the world what they can do. Their new album, Willis, showcases their diversity as they bounce around different styles of ska, while still maintaining their own edge.
The CD starts out with "Crazy Monkey Woman". An all-out garage rock track with some horns and occasional piano bursts. The song definitely showcases the bands diverse range of styles and influences, but for the most part the song is average at best. "Out All Night" is a great soul-ska song with a nice dose of punk rock thrown in for an intriguing experience. The vocals are rough, yet friendly. The horns are bursts of energy that screams out your name, and the guitar is a precision tool that keeps you dancing throughout the song. From punk riffs to rock n' roll and back to the upbeat that will get you to make good use of your feet, this song will get your attention and keep it. "Ocean" starts out with a tremendously inviting horn line, before jumping into some traditional ska mixed with some soul and old school R & B. The horns sound off in the background, while the vocals take control of the song. Rough and scratchy, they keep the song in check. The drums play Caribbean beats like you've never heard, while the bass closes in and jumps back out with power. The guitar keeps your soul warm, making you dance and have a splendid time. "Stone Feeling" is another bright soul-ska classic, keeping everything action-packed and full of energy with a splash of rock n' roll. The vocals keep their rough edge, while the horns blare in the background. The drums keep the beat, while bashing on the kit and keeping everything lively. The bass thumps along through the song, while the guitar slashes through its ska to rock riffs. "Time Won't Let Me" is another ska track that has heavy doses of rock n' roll in the mix. A Hammond B-3 slides through the song, adding a lot of depth and emotions into the song. It's like a burst of cool air blowing through your window. "Crime" starts out slow, with a 60's rock n' roll style beneath it. Choruses pick up the pace a bit, but the overall tone of the song is mid tempo throughout. Horns and the Hammond B-3 come in and out, adding flavor to the mix, but this is a rock n' roll song in every aspect of the word. "Bitter" is another rock n' roll song reminiscent of the golden days of rock n' roll. Flourishes of soul are mixed in this bit, and the still keep the strong horn section throughout the song. Also, the Hammond B-3 adds a juicy texture to the mix, keeping everything sweet and delicious. "Moment" closes out the CD with some updated ska, claiming traditional ska as a heavy factor in the music. The vocals are softer than normal, not as rough, adding deeper emotions into the mix. The horns are soulful, and sure to put a smile on your face. The guitar keeps everything danceable, basically holding your hand and making you dance with it. Thirteen total tracks, well worth listening too.
If you haven't heard The Pietasters, your missing out. Creating their own map on how ska and rock n' roll should be, they dive right in with their influences and fly out with a creative mixture of rock n' roll, ska, punk, R & B, as well as some Motown. I'll give this CD a B+.
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