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July 22, 2024

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The Diablotones
The Diablotones (Self Released)

By: Alex Steininger

The Diablotones are a seven-piece ska outfit from Seattle, Washington that mix in punk, surf, jazz, and traces of polka to create their own, innovative ska sound. Not to be confused with ska-punk, or any pop hybrid of ska, these guys take from the past, adding their own influences, and come out on top with a modern day mix of music that will make you dance, smile, and jump around with glee.

The CD starts off with "Essay Violencia," a highly danceable number. Light punk riffs are thrown in here and there for emphasis, but don't go calling this a ska-punk number. The punk riffs are smooth and light, not nearly as heavy as in a full on ska-punk band. The percussion handles transition from danceable times to crunch time nicely, while the bass creates its own path and helps push the song that much farther. Surf riffs are sprinkled in here and there, giving the music not only a more danceable edge, but giving it a more breezy feeling. And lets not forget the horns. They hold their own, keeping the music quick and on its feet. At times they are the centerpiece to this feast. Strong and fast paced, they shoot out the energy and help spread the joy around. "Get Off The Bed" has a great Caribbean feel to it, from the percussion to the guitar. The horns draw from fast jazz and pop arrangements, giving it a nice, laid back jam feelings. It's as if some guys were just sitting around and decided to start jamming and see what the results were. And believe me, the results were tremendous. Hot and infectious, if the upbeat on the guitar combined with the pounding drums doesn't get you, then the horns will surely claim you as their next victim. "I-5" lets the guys kick back, relax, and have some more fun. A heavy surf song, it shows these guys can do it just as good with no vocals. Mixing in some smooth jazz you'd hear out of a smoky club over a bed of tight horn lines and surf everywhere, this song is amazing. There is more energy in this one song than a lot of bands have in their whole careers. From the opening sample until the end of the song, you won't be able to stop moving and grooving. "Vito's" has a nice bass line intro, and then jumps into some punk rock polka. The horns still keep their intense feeling alive, while the drums keep the energy level high as it paces the whole song. The vocals are even done accordingly, with an Italian accent and all. "Skabatgirl" combines a lot of The Diablotones sound into one song. A lot of surf and punk in the beginning, heavy on the ska all the way through, and the occasional polka and jazz sprinkled in there very lightly, almost to the point you miss it. Another thing about this song that makes it one of the album stand outs is the fact it showcases the tremendous horn section quite nicely. The percussionist also has some nice meaty parts in here, giving the song an all-around flavor. And don't forget the bassist and the guitarist. They play a tremendous role in this song as well. Finally we come to the "Russian Folk Song," the ending to a grand CD. These guys have an amazing ability to mix in a boat load of influences, and still keep the ska present and danceable.

If your looking for a good time, and your tired of too many ska bands floating around on the market now days that sound the same, check these guys out. Too diverse and talented to be placed in one category, they shouldn't be even labeled a ska band. More appropriately they should be labeled "a good time band." I'll give this CD an A.

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