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July 14, 2024

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Ninon Ska Dansu (Land of the Rising Ska)
Various Japanese Ska Artists (Moon Ska Records)

By: Alex Steininger

Ska isn't just an American thing, its an international thing, and Moon Ska knows it. Being the pioneers in anything ska, they have decided to let us in on some of the rising bands in Japan. Twelve bands spanning the ska gamut, from traditional ska to ska-punk, Japan has a thriving scene that is ready to invade America. Oi-Skall Mates start off the CD with "Nutty Sound Oi Skall Mates". A traditional ska/oi blend that will get you grooving in no time. The horns are the fighting force behind the song, carrying it through different beats and melodies. The music very danceable. Letting your feet shake and move to the music is the only way to enjoy this music. The song ends with the band chanting their name and clapping their hands. A weird ending to a good song, but forget that, and just enjoy the music. Rude Bones brings their style of third wave ska with "Short of Time". A soft ska song with breezy horns, it allows you to dance a slow number. The vocals are hard to understand, and carry a bit of a roughness to them. A little choppy too, they sometimes ruin the melody. The horns are the kings of the music, while the bass, drums, and guitar serve them faithfully. The drums are soft, lightly tapping their way through the song, keep the pace. The keyboards take control when the horns aren't present, creating the mood. Young Punch's "Nothing Goes Right" is a ska-punk song that will let you release all your aggression. The vocals are fast and very hard to understand. The guitar is heavy and full of angst. The drummer pounds the crap out of his kit, taking control of it and keeping the music fast and powerful. The bass is charged up and ready to kick some butt. Fruity lets you calm down a bit with "S.A.G. to you". A very mellow song that relies on the bass and the keyboard for direction. The guitar plays the upbeat in the back of the music, while the keyboard directs them through the short song. Only two minutes, and the songs appearance does not change. It's a very boring song. Blue Beat Players and their "Cool Ska" is traditional in every sense. Heavily influenced by The Skatalites, this band fits right in with many of today's traditional bands. The horns are soulful and soothing to hear, while the drums are soft and carry emotions. The gentle guitar sways your feet and body, creating a very relaxed feeling throughout the body. Right after feeling relaxed Snail Ramp picks it up with some ska-punk in "Run Away". Typical ska punk. The verses are danceable ska and the choruses are fast punk beats with horn lines. But, this band sets themselves apart from others with strong horn lines. They are also very catchy. Determinations end the CD with "Lion Bite". A traditional ska song that will let you relax and indulge in some fine tunes. Kick back, put your feet up, relax, and enjoy. Japan is on the attack again, but this time we're allies with them. If you thought Americans were the only ones who could make ska, take a look at this compilation. You will be mighty surprised, and pleased. I'll give this CD a B.
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