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July 22, 2024

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Jump Up! Records Presents:
SKA American Style (Jump Up! Records)

By: Alex Steininger

From Chuck Wren and Jump Up! Records, SKA American Style gives us a great taste of the ska music coming out of the Midwest. From ska-punk bands like Telegraph and the Eclectics, to the swing-ska sounds of Suspect Bill, you can feel the diversity of ska bubbling in the Midwest. Nineteen tracks of energy, this compilation will cover everyone's want list.

The CD starts off with Telegraph's "American Way." The energy of this ska-punk band quickly grabs a hold of you and takes your interest. The thick guitar slams through powerful chords, a danceable upbeat, and then back to melodic hooks, keeping you singing along with a smile on your face. The bass is chunky and brick-like, keeping everything tough and rough, giving it a very powerful edge. The drums cover themselves excellent, pounding when it needs to be done, and slightly tapping through the parts that give you a chance to relax. The song embodies the working man with it's force and strength, but also gives hope with its soothing horn lines that jump in and out of the song. And just like their main influences, Operation Ivy, Telegraph covers the political spectrum with their conscious lyrics, describing American life, and how they just want be left alone. After a fierce start like that, you'll get a tremendous vibe from this disc. And The Parka Kings won't let you down. Their contribution, "Whiskey Wine & Roserys", is an up tempo, fast paced ska track that leans heavily on punk influences. Blaring horn lines add intensive bursts of emotion, while the vocals keep everything positive and full of hope. The drums keep everything fast paced and energetic, while the bass keeps it hard. The guitar leads the way, jumping from fast paced ska beats, slower beats that give you a chance to slow down the dance, and then right into melodic punk dives that will send a sudden impact straight through your body, forcing you to jump up and down with glee. Suspect Bills' "Cafe Trichter" slows things down a bit for the fan that doesn't like punk with their ska. Their swing-ska blend is nothing short of spectacular. The female vocals add even more depth for this talented band, making this contribution one of the best songs on this compilation. Swing with a friend to this track, or burn up the floor with your skank, either way, you'll have tons of fun. Gangster Fun's "Date With Density" is a unique blend of fast paced, third wave ska beats, rock n' roll hooks, and 80's vocals. These guys will burn a hole in your feet, while you frantically dance and move to this song. And however you feel about the 80's, the vocals add to the texture of the song, not subtract. Skapone's "Tracy" is a bit of a disappointment for this compilation. It starts off with some punk beats in the background, while the vocals are very controlling and high in the mix. It's a very annoying combination. It seems to pick up with the addition of the upbeat, but soon flounders once again. It's not even worth your time. But The Adjusters' "The Way You Move" adds some soul/R&B/ska to the mix, picking your spirits right back up. Trading off between rough male vocals and soft female vocals, the perfect vocal team is created. The horns drive right to your heart, keeping your soul warm, while the rest of the band keeps your body moving with the music. Rhy Memaster's "The Sky Machine" finishes off the CD with some third wave ska with a touch of funk. Another track that isn't that good, which is an overall let down from the rest of the CD.

Seventeen out of nineteen songs is a good percentage. Plus, bands like Telegraph, Suspect Bill, The Parka Kings, and The Eclectics have a bright future in the world of ska. Pick up this CD and flavor some of the bands that will be tearing up the charts in the future. You won't be disappointed (except in a few spots) with this compilation. Overall, this effort deserves an A-.

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