Shed Some Skin (Asian Man Records)
By: Alex Steininger
A nine-piece outfit from Santa Cruz, California, Slow Gherkin blend pop, rock 'n' roll, and ska to come up with there own sound -- from herein known as ska-rock. On their sophomore effort, SHED SOME SKIN, they lift up the music with a bit more energy and spirit, giving the listener twelve slices of sugar coated, ska-rock tunes to enjoy.
"Another In Your Life" shows the rock and pop influences that help give the band their distinct sound. Heavy on the keyboards, the song has a strong sugar-pop feel, while the guitar and horns help push the ska feeling. Then there is the drums, bass, and vocals, which play together well and help give the song a bit of rock to chew on. Above and beyond everything, though, is the fun factor. Playing hand-in-hand with each other, the band is able to have a blast and help push this feeling on to the listener.
"Turned Off" is the same way, except this time the horns make a much stronger effort -- virtually leading the song in the beginning. From there, the guitar (with its zany upbeat) takes you on a ride, getting you to dance and shake along with the music. Just as before, the song is filled with a bunch of fun lovin' guys jamming away, having a never-ending party, and letting go of their problems in hopes that their music will allow you to let go of yours. The vocals aren't always interesting, and the music gets a bit stale in a few spots, but the energy and fun that glows throughout the song over shadows this and helps warm you up.
Starting off with a punk rock sting, the bass intro to "Stash" quickly gets your blood pumping. Then the surf feel of the guitar enters in. Now the party is beginning. But, then the keyboards and the rest of the band jump in and everything reaches the boiling point. Keeping you going for a minute or so, the song eventually starts to cool off. Losing a bit of the fun and excitement that their vocal oriented tracks bring to you, the lack thereof hurt them. With this instrumental number, they just aren't able to keep your attention as they would with some wacky vocals thrown in.
"I Can't Stand" re-stores your faith in the band, with some more ska-rock running your way. More keyboard heavy pop colliding with ska, the pop hooks keep you listening, while the upbeat gets you dancing. Singing and moving along to the music, the combination of ska and pop seem to work favorably with each other. Always a plus with pop heavy music, the vocals are easily understood and easy to sing-along with.
Finishing off with "How Now Lowbrow," they seem to regenerate themselves and pump out a very energetic closing. You'll be shaking and moving along with this number -- that's for sure. Just as you were when they opened, they seem to keep you rocking until the end.
Young guys, who just want to party and have fun, this sense of adventure comes through in their music. Never too serious, the general theme of kicking back and having fun is always present on this disc. Rock out, sing-along, or dance with the music, because either route you take you'll have some fun. I'll give this album a B.