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July 22, 2024

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The Strange Ways
Corporate Monkey (Moon Ska Records)

By: Alex Steininger

Hailing from Florida, this six-piece plays English Beat influenced 2-Tone ska. Adding more content to their music than dull songs about beer and partying, their lyrics tackle subjects such as how the corporate minded fool hurts others only for his advance, and of course, topics of females and love.

Starting with "Corporate Monkey," arguably their best track, some quick vocal work provides a nice lead-in for the song. "Jones come in, how are you? Wife and kids? Great, you're FIRED!" sets you up for their views and opinions on the corporate world. Following through, the impact in their words is truly felt. Nice horn work begins the music, capturing the listeners attention while the percussion, bass, and guitar provide a background for them. Soon the horns fade out and the guitar takes center stage. The vocals and their words then come in and the whole song takes off. The music is fast enough to dance too, but also has enough slowness and relaxing vibes to it to ensure the listener truly absorbs the words that are being spoken. The chorus picks things up a bit, making sure you're dancing and having fun, and also ends on this note. Usually I hate it when bands start talking during the middle of their songs, but here it works. When the vocals pipe in and make comments like "Jones is gone after lunch" and "How many companies am I going to buy during lunch?" they work, and help add to the message of the song. Usually ineffective, it is refreshing to see a band pull something like this off. "Chosen Heart" offers some soothing 2-Tone beats full of melody and sunshine. The horns tear through the music with ease, making their impact both felt and heard. Being from Florida, these guys do a nice job of bringing the weather into their music and making it spill out of the speakers. Maybe it's the fact that is it really hot right now and I'm sweating as I type this up, or maybe it is the fact that their music parallels their state and just heats things up when you listen to them, but I can tell you for sure that as I sit here and listen to them all I can feel is warm weather on the body, sand on the feet, and tropical drinks in the hand. "Hopscotch Skank" helps add to that feeling with it's 2-Tone/reggae mixture. A quick little instrumental, as the title suggests, this number is very easy to skank with. "All Blues" is another instrumental, this one even better (and longer) than "Hopscotch Skank." Very danceable, this number is definitely one you'll move too. A strong upbeat, juicy bass, meaty drums, and ever-so-enchanting horns help carry this song and make it what it is. . .FUN! "Boggle Ina Dance" helps close out the CD. Ambulance noises make an appearance during a few parts, helping to furnish the background with something different.

These guys are pretty good. They have strong horns when they want them, and the music is very fun. Perfect for sunny days. I'll give this a B+.

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