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September 25, 2023

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Secret Cajun Band
Big House (Razor Boy Records)

By: Alex Steininger

Representing everything ska has projected to the media in the past year, these guys embrace it all and seem to love it. They're all about fun, dancing, partying, and just kicking it back and forgetting your worries for a while. Highly energetic, very poppy, and driven by humor, this six-piece band isn't always at their peak on this disc, but they always crank out something fun and amusing.

Right from the beginning, the opening of the title track hits you like a brick. The pop-ska beats are so infectious and danceable, you'll instantly be tangled in their musical web. Punchy horn lines drive right to your feet, with the upbeat also making quite an impact. The lyrics aren't that good, but they do fit right in with the music. Very humorous, the lyrics add to the fun factor. If you happen to catch a glimpse of them while you're frantically dancing up a storm, a smile will cross your face and you'll start to chuckle. "Buttsteak" proves to be a highlight of the album with its hunger-induced state of mind and crazy sense of humor. The chorus puts a smile on your face as the whole band shouts out "Buttsteak," and the verses keep your feet moving with the powerful chimes of the horns. The guitar plays at a mid tempo pace throughout the song, giving you a choice of dancing or bouncing along with the melody. "Tesfaye," is the result of holding a Mexican fiesta in an Arabic dessert, with the band of choice being a pop-ska outfit from the states. Realistically an instrumental number, talking and shouts can be heard throughout the song. Although, I do wish they'd take out the senseless words and keep it as a fun little instrumental, because if they did it would pack a lot more juice. Getting the point themselves, they swiftly pick up the pace and drop all useless vocals for the second half of the song. "Crazy Horse" pays homage to the original ska movement, better know as traditional ska, right down to the crisp sparkling of vinyl that opens the track. Adding vocals half-way through, the song turns into a pop-ska goes Latin number. Weird, yet refreshing, they do a good job or re-vamping the old with the new. Often a fatal combo, they manage to pull off the mixture of pop-ska and traditional beats, to a degree. It still doesn't sound great, but the intentions are good and clear. "Mister Canoe" is another number that blends Latin grooves, traditional ska, and a more modern 'third wave' sound all in one. Lined with a few hooks for the taste buds, and plenty of ripe horns to drive the soul crazy, the very least you'll gain from this song is a good time and a few danceable melodies. From there, the more you get into the song the more you'll find yourself dancing and singing along. Progressing with their mixture of the new and the old, this time around they sound quite solid and efficient. "Teenage Smokers" tackles a serious social issue with both class and maturity, but also slips in some fun ska beats to help make the medicine go down smooth. Lines like "You can't buy maturity by the carton. I don't care what Virginia's done" and "I'm so sorry that your cancer's spreading, at least you've got your friends and social standing" help get the message across, while the horns drive the message even deeper into the cranium. A solid ska number, dance away and have fun, back pay attention to the message. Hopefully you'll retain something and walk away with more than a good time. Ending with "Cisco Kid," the disc closes out with a spy meets ska melody which quickly transcends into energetic bursts of horns and a speedy upbeat.

Secret Cajun Band is all about fun, and that is what this disc serves up. Although not the tightest or at the top of the class when it comes to originality, the underlined theme of enjoyment is persistence throughout. Whether they're experimenting with different aspects of ska, or they're delivering the energetic beats that will keep you coming back, they always play the part of the clown and enjoy every minute of it. I'll give this disc a B-.

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