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July 23, 2024

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Skaliente (Grita! Records)

By: Alex Steininger

Bringing you different aspects of what is currently going on in ska, SKALIENTE covers everything from New York third-wave to Southern California ska-punk. While some tracks are previously released, there are also some tracks from big names like Rancid and the Voodoo Glow Skulls that are previously unreleased. With sixteen tracks in all, big and small names alike, this compilation doesn't hold anything back.

Going into this compilation I was very excited. A new track from Rancid!?! But all my enthusiasm soon ended when I put the disc in and started to listen to "Lethal." The feel behind the song is nice. It definitely has the innovation and creativity of the new album, as it is most likely one of the many outtakes from those sessions. But the song itself is too cluttered. There is too much going on, making the song sound like just a bunch of mush. You can make out the words, but there is so much background noise you easily get distracted. Not being much of a fan of ska-punk instrumentals, I believe this number would have made a better instrumental. Or, at least, they should have cleaned up the vocal work. With a weak intro, I quickly lost intro in the disc. That was until Inspecter 7's "Now" came on and got me back in the right mood. Playing their bright mix of third wave ska and oi!, the high energy level of the song is enough to make anyone want to move. The horn lines were punchy, but not overly punchy, helping to make the song very danceable, but also a bit calm. Skunk's "Ongi Gaizki" does a bang up job on following Inspecter 7, creating another highly explosive ska number. Grabbing at your feet, the songs' rocked-fueled intensity level will itch at your feet until you move. Also mixing in some calmer movements, they bring it down a bit for you to turn the sweat down and slowly dance along. One Groovy Coconut's "Catalina," off their Ska Satellite debut, begins with some punchy horns and a rock feel, before turning into a relaxing 2-Tone number. The first time the horns make their comeback in the song, they sound forced. It doesn't work at all, but then when they come back again you have a better idea of where they're coming from, and start appreciating them. Mephiskapheles, always the band to funk up the party, bring some funk/ska/carnival noise into the mix with "Sate." Danceable at times, humorous during other times, their sense of humor is evident in every aspect of their music. Although the song isn't the best, it does put a smile on your face. And I guess that's all that matters. Hepcat is always a good choice for a ska compilation, because they never disappoint. Although it would have been great to have a new song from them, "Rudies All Around" is such a great number that it didn't even matter. It's Hepcat, so I had fun. Their traditional, rootsy feel is the best you'll ever come across on the West Coast. Ending with an Aks Mamma Song, "Get Together," Coolie Ranx makes a guest appearance and turns the song upside down. His heavily accented Jamaican tongue adds a lot of flavor to this mid-tempo, third wave number. Very strong on it's own, Coolie just makes it that much more appealing. I guess they saved the best for last.

This compilation is very mediocre. The big name bands on this compilation either serve up previously released material, or their cuts aren't that moving. Besides Aks Mamma's track, there really isn't that much going for this disc. I'll give it a C-.

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