Modern Music For Dancing Lovers (Simmerdown Productions)
By: Alex Steininger
Portland, Oregon's premiere ska band, Franceska plays a blend of traditional ska with some roots R&B for an added flavor. A powerful horn section, a dynamite rhythm section, and powerful female vocals help to propel this band to a high plateau in the world of ska. Playing it sincere and with emotion, one listen will send you in to a state of euphoria. Their debut CD, Modern Music For Dancing Lovers, contains twelve golden tracks that are all about love, lost love, and the human emotions we all feel.
The CD starts out with "Tell Me Whatcha Gonna Do". Right from the beginning they hit you with a strong horn section. Of course, the vocals are the dominant factor in the music, taking you on a journey through their hearts and souls. The drums keep the beat quite nicely, backing up the vocals in a lot of parts. The keyboard adds flavor, spicing up the mix tremendously. The bass keeps everything tight, while the guitar slides through the upbeat, keeping you dancing and smiling. "Franceska" is an instrumental number that is soft and cozy. Without the emotionally powerful vocals, the song will take you out and make you dance. No thinking required, just pure fun. Have a good time, as you can hear the band surely did. Covering Bob Marley's "One Cup of Coffee", Franceska does the song loads of justice. The horns are choppy and swift, quickly shooting out and diving in for another shot. The guitarist is all over the guitar, playing with passion and love for the music. The drums keep it light, except for a few bangs on the cymbals, leading the band through a heart felt story of love and pain. The vocals tell the story as if they had written the song themselves. "If You Were Only Mine" is another cover, originally done by Lord Tanamo and the Skatalites. The horns are a strong factor, especially in this song. The guitar gets you dancing, while the horns warm your heart with love. The vocals once again tell the tale of love, singing the words with so much emotion that not only can you tell that she feels deeply, but you also start having deep feelings of love towards others. "Get Up" will take you away to a tropical beach, somewhere in the Caribbean. As you relax and let the song take control of your body, you begin dancing while the wind blows smoothly over your whole body. Trees gently sway, as you dance the night away. The guitar is so tremendous, it goes from one riff to another, making you feel love and happiness. The vocals emphasize every emotion, and sometimes adding more, while the horns make you feel comfortable. Everything is bright and happy, giving you plenty of reasons to love life. "Would You Be Mine?", originally appearing on the LAND OF THE BIGFOOT SKA compilation (Simmerdown Productions), is not only fun to dance along to, but is so infectious, you'll eventually be singing along to the song without even realizing it. They keyboards have muscle while the guitar and drums form a tight backbone for the song. Erin Wallace's vocals once again fill your body with emotions, and as always, she puts lots of heart and soul into every word she sings. "Diego", also appearing on the LAND OF THE BIGFOOT SKA compilation, is an upbeat number that will find you dancing every time you hear this song. No time to rest, you'll jump up on the dance floor and have a marvelous time dancing with friends and loved ones. Two hidden tracks round off the CD, including "Diego" done in Studio One fashion.
Franceska is a tremendous band, appealing to both traditional ska fans, as well as fans of the modern third wave ska boom. The horns are tight and crisp, always adding a nice element to the music, while the vocals are sweet and lovable. The rest of the band is tight and on top of everything. You couldn't ask for anything better. This CD definitely deserves an A+! Order it from Simmerdown Productions (P.O. Box 344/Portland, Oregon 97207-0344/USA) today!
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