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July 22, 2024

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Eastern Standard Time
Second Hand (Beatville Records)

By: Alex Steininger

Eastern Standard Time is a traditional ska band out of Washington D.C. Playing mostly traditional ska without vocals, they do bring in a few guest vocalists, including the Pilfers' Coolie Ranx.

The CD starts out with "Tick Tock." After a few seconds of a ticking clock, the drums softly roll into the picture, right before the horns fire off and start the song off. The guitar quickly jumps into the picture, and sets the pace for a smooth dancing experience. It's fiery chops are what great ska music is made of. The keys add nice texture and a smooth flow to the music. Besides that, they help accent the horns quite nice, and give off a nice, delicate, jazzy feel to the music. But it's obvious the horns are the leader of the pack. Glowing when present, the music doubles in soul when the horns are present. "Oh No!" starts off with a nice harmonica intro. Then the rest of the band jumps in, and serves up a slow, thoughtful number. Easily sway with the music, and let your body absorb all its flavor. The harmonica plays nicely in the background, helping to compliment the horns, or to take control of the music when the horns aren't present. Stabbing its way through the song, the harmonica always makes itself known. The horns are once again powerful, except this time they take their time and simmer, instead of cooking at full power. Slowly flowing through the song, they help keep everything delicate and rich. "Mad Dog" invites guest vocalist Coolie Ranx into the picture. His Jamaican accented vocals add a nice touch to the music, and give it a rough edge at times, keeping everything on its feet. With Coolie on vocals, the song sways a bit away from the traditional format. The song is traditional in musical style, but Coolie gives the song a kick, twisting it into a heavy reggae touched traditional song. A very nice track, especially since Coolie's vocals are so powerful. He can go from the rough Jamaican side of the vocals to soulful, harmonious Jamaican melody. The other song with vocals is "Housewive's Choice." A beautifully composed track with vocal trade-offs between a male and a female. The male voice is deep, with a little gruff-ness to it. While the female vocals are very light and sensuous, singing in great harmony with the music. This song is definitely the best track on the album. The music is soft and enchanting, while the voices help give off a lot of emotions and feelings the music couldn't have otherwise projected. "Be Bop" is a fairly fast number, in more ways than one. It's the fastest song on the album in respect to time, as well as a very up tempo number. The guitar chomps through the song, while the horns go crazy, driving the song in a frenzy. Very fast and very jazzy, this song will not let you sit down. You have to move to enjoy this one. This CD closes out with a slow number, "Urban Lullaby." You'll be able to sit back and relax to this one, recapping the CD in your mind, or you'll be able to get up and sway with this number. There is also some hidden stuff to look out for on this CD!

Usually I'm not the biggest fan of modern day bands playing instrumentals, but these guys do them with style! Not only do they play slow, very traditional numbers, they can also pick up the pace and add some very hot jazz to the mix, giving the songs an extra kick. This CD is a hot one, so keep your eyes and ears open for Eastern Standard Time. I'll give this CD an A.

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