Tuesday, March 30, 2004
Under Over by Doctormanette, from the album "The Same Thing Over and Over..."
Yeah, this feature has been gone for a few months, but I recently went searching and found a lot of good new music. I personally like Third Wave Ska and Ska-core (sometimes aka "Fourth Wave"), and so that's what I searched for. I don't pirate music, but I have no problem downloading the free sample tracks bands provide, and will sometimes buy the albums of these bands. One band I found recently was Doctormanette (or, as Amazon.com calls them, "Doctor Manette"), a now-defunct five-piece band featuring trumpet and sax.
Key elements to good ska are clear vocals which match the tone of the instruments and songs, catchy lyrics and hooks, a good sense of irony, some musical knowledge and talent, and a horn section capable of playing both very tightly and fairly loosely while playing accurately and creatively. I also like clean lyrics. Most bands have some of these, but not all. Reel Big Fish and Mighty Mighty Bosstones have mismatched vocals, in my opinion. Five Iron Frenzy also is trouble, with high vocals that get annoying after a while. OC Supertones have abandoned ska, and several other bands were never really there to begin with. Catch-22/B.O.T.A.R./Streetlight Manifesto is incredibly talented, but the lyrics not only have profanity but in Streetlight Manifesto's case, contain outright blasphemy at some points. Many other bands, such as I Voted For Kodos, MU330, Voodoo Glow Skulls, 13th Tribe, Buck O' Nine, and Radio Active have a good song or two, but on the whole aren't so hot.
Doctormanette has all the things I want in a ska band. It is one of the very few bands, along with groups like the Insyderz, the Hippos, Secret Agent 8, and the Toasters where I like pretty much everything I hear. In their songs, they manage to switch keys, do several minor variations in a row (listen to the end of Over Under), catch you with hooks, and yet keep everything clean and in good fun (bands that can do that always seem to break up...). My only regret is that you can't find their lyrics online, though I've ordered their CD from Amazon and hopefully they'll be in the liner notes. If you don't feel like buying their CD, or want to test out more songs first, you can go to EMusic.com, get a trial subscription, and download their entire CD (2 Cents, Diesel, and Under Over are free off the band's website, though...). Next free link: Insyderz