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July 25, 2024

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The Incognitos
"Hold On Amigos" (Self Released)

By: Alex Steininger

The Incognitos are an eight piece ska-punk outfit from Connecticut. Led by two vocalists, they play ska fast and with a heavy dose of punk influences, but still give the music enough ground to keep it danceable and upbeat. Self releasing their own album, they serve up fourteen tracks that showcase their promise and ability.

The CD starts off with "No Excuses." Right from the beginning the horns hit you with their notes, and capture your attention. They pull you into the music, and make you listen. The guitar starts you bouncing and dancing, but quickly jumps into a chorus that makes you jump and slam. Then back to the verse again that will get you dancing. The vocals, however, are destroyed with two vocalists going off on the same thing. Two male vocals at that. I've seen two vocalists pull off the job, but most of them are male/female duo's or female/female duo's. But never have I seen two males go at it. Especially with bare minimums in recording and production credits. It just doesn't work. "Toys 'R' Us Kids (Jeff's Cowbell Song)" is an infectious number that will get you dancing, smiling, and singing along even with the dual vocals. The cowbell is also a nice touch. It adds a different feeling to the song, and makes me shake and dance along with it. The guitar is highly infectious, giving you everything you need to skank across the floor. The drums work hard and do a marvelous job. They quickly go from soft melodies that keep the structure in place, before pounding ferociously at the beat and give the song the drive it needs to kick into full gear. "Swing With Me" is the shortest song on the album, clocking it at a bit over a minute and thirty seconds, but its also a very powerful number. The horns are intense, while the song controls itself nicely when it jumps from its fast third wave beats to its punk chorus. It also throws in a nice hook when it jumps from the verse to the chorus, capturing your attention. "Essentials" gives the punk beats a rest, and concentrates all its efforts on some slower, softer ska beats. In the slow moments like this song, the vocals seem to take total control over the music. Too high and loud in the mix, they take a lot away. But when they are not present, the horns lead the band through some very good music. The one thing that is nice though, in the slow moments they only go with one vocalist, which was a good choice. And during the choruses, the two vocalists work nice. "Wednesday Morning" starts off soft, and then jumps into some punk for the chorus, before going back into some slow ska verses. A live version of "17," done at Pearl Street, closes out the CD. It shows the band has potential, but once again, this live version shows the two vocalists don't work.

The Incognitos have a lot of potential. I know they don't have the money for state-of-the-art recording equipment, but if they did, they would be fantastic. This disc is recorded very rough and raw, which hinders a lot of their talent. Their drummer is powerful, and created a great backbone for the music. Their horn section is fierce, and can add a lot to each song, while the guitar does a nice job of jumping from danceable beats to slamming riffs. The bassist keeps everything in line nicely, but the two vocalists destroy everything the band does musically. Two vocalists during the chorus is no problem, but during the verses it really subtracts from the music. Drop one vocalist, and get better recording equipment, and a few years from now these guys might put out one hell of a CD. But this one just doesn't have a lot of energy. I'll give it a C+.

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