Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Duff Review: Across the Aisle-The Mercy EP

Across the Aisle
The Mercy EP

On The Mercy EP, NYC's Across the Aisle crank out loads of hooky, tart, and rambunctious ska-punk-pop in the vein of such 90s acts as Dance Hall Crashers and Save Ferris, but with Mighty Mighty Bosstones Devil's Night Out-type muscle and bite (pay close attention to the lyrics--the world according to ATA is quite bittersweet). Powerhouse singer Megg Howe has an extraordinary command of her rich alto voice and is more-than-ably backed by her musical cohorts on these four studio and four live cuts. "Better Off" is a gleeful kiss-off to obnoxious backbiters ("Thank you for leaving/we're so better off without you/Thank you for leaving/Don't let the door hit you on the way out!"), while a public break-up on the angrily catchy "59th & Lex" leaves the singer stunned, incredulous, and pissed-off in his wake. "Beer Song" is a ridiculously addictive, over-the-top ode to suds, which swipes part of the melody from "Walking On Sunshine" by Katrina and the Waves for its intro, and sports these great lyrics: "Rum and coke, whiskey on the rocks, don't give me Long Island iced tea--NO!/My liver needs a break/but I can't seem to shake my love for beer!" Special Brew indeed.

The live tracks prove that Across the Aisle is no studio creation--but a super-tight ska musical machine. The best of the lot is the noir-ish "Total Stranger," a deadly serious and slinky jazzy/punky/reggay number about a philandering musician on tour running through more groupies than towns and his very aware and wounded girlfriend hot on his trail ("And how's Miss Sunshine State?/Or the punk rock chick near the Michigan lakes?/Then there's goody two-shoes Seattle/All you do is kiss, but it gives your brass a rattle/Don't treat me like a groupie/Treat my heart with care/I might give it back to you, so don't you dare/Put my high heels on the line/It's such a stupid wager/You don't know her like me, she's a total stranger..."). And not a shred of self-pity is found in Megg's voice--knowledge is power and she's gonna use it.

The Mercy EP is one hell of an impressive debut--somebody should sign 'em to a label now!

The Duff Guide to Ska Grade: B+/A-

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