Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Duff Review: Ska is Dead 7" of the Month Club -- Mustard Plug/The Beatdown and Big D and the Kids Table/Brunt of It

Vinyl rules! Rebelling against the unfortunate dominance of easily disposable-erasable-pirated (and somehow soulless) digitally downloaded music, the fantastic Ska is Dead 7" of the Month Club has been issuing a series of limited edition split vinyl singles (on seriously thick black and white wax with cool, printed outer sleeves--love the tattered Walt Jabsco zombie!) from top shelf ska bands of all stripes (i.e.: vintage ska, 2 Tone, ska-punk, etc.). All of the featured cuts by these bands are new or unreleased--and this is the only place to find 'em, as they will not be released in any other form! (The Ska is Dead 7″ Club is a joint effort between Dave Kirchgessner of Mustard Plug and his Ska is Dead tour company, Asbestos Records and Underground Communique Records, that combines their collective obsession with dead genres and dead formats.)

Here's The Duff Guide to Ska review of the October and November 2010 batch of Ska is Dead singles:

Mustard Plug "Aye Aye Aye" b/w The Beatdown "Piece of Mind" (white vinyl)

On the debut Ska is Dead single, Mustard Plug completely mash it up with "Aye Aye Aye," a classic, super-charged third wave/modern ska song (as patented by bands like The Busters or El Bosso und die Ping Pongs--super melodic, maniacally upbeat, heavily guitar driven, mega-powered horn lines, etc.)--as opposed to some of the Plug's more (and equally great) ska'n'roll offerings. Singer Dave Kirchgessner professes to keep the faith (in ska, one might presume) no matter what goes down: "Aye aye aye/I never let it go/Though you tell me so/'Cause you know we believe/I believe!" Seriously, with Mustard Plug for us, who can be against us?

If you've been lucky enough to hear The Beatdown's debut, self-titled album (read The Duff Guide to Ska review of it here), then you'll know what I'm saying when I opine that "Piece of Mind" sounds like a single spun off that stellar album. This groovin', laid-back rocksteady/skinhead reggae cut is about the seeking the chunk of knowledge that will bring one solace (the double meaning in the phonetic relationship of piece/peace): "I haven't slept in a long, long time/Searching for a piece of mind/What I'm looking for, well I can't find/Walking on a very thin line/All over the city people think I'm crazy/I'm running blind, running blind for a piece of mind." Sure, I hope they find what they're looking for, but I feel privileged just to be along for the ride.

Big D & the Kids Table "Not Our Fault" and "Lash Out" b/w Brunt of It "Nah Nah Nah Nah" and "Art School Dropout" (33 1/3 rpm black vinyl 45)

Big D and the Kids Table turn in two crash'n'burn cuts for their Ska is Dead single. "Not Our Fault" is the ska-punk love story/cautionary tale of two busted juvenile delinquents who fall in love at the police station (shades of "Ferris Bueller")--but who fail to realize that they're responsible for their own stupid choices ("Take a look/ Open your eyes/Yeah, everybody's not the same/See, some of us got to do things right/that to some might seem insane"). "Lash Out" is a fierce hardcore workout that does just what it says.

I've caught Brunt of It live in action--essentially a sustained jet blast of hardcore--so it's kind of nice to be able to find the ska band within, and discern the melodies and musicianship that are clearly at work here. "Nah Nah Nah Nah" is a bitter post-mortem of a relationship gone bad: "Can't you see what you meant to me?/Forgiving me is an impossibility..." "Art School Drop Out" is about a femme fatale who has reeled in her patsy in this film noir-ish tale (imagine "Double Indemnity" re-done by Quentin Tarantino): "Everyone gives her the second look/"The Stranger" is her favorite book/A psycho secretary is how she dresses/Clunky shoes, librarian glasses/Our love is deranged/A dangerous game/I'm under your spell/Lead me to hell!" These tracks are intense and brutal, but one hundred percent compelling.

The Duff Guide to Ska Grade (for all of these singles): A

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Read The Duff Guide to Ska review of the December 2010 Ska is Dead releases from Sonic Boom Six/The Nix 86 and Vic Ruggiero & Maddie Ruthless/The Forthrights here.

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If you're interested in subscribing to this limited edition 7" record club (there are only 550 copies of each single printed--there are no digital downloads, so break out yer luddite relative's turntable!), visit skaisdead.bigcartel.com.

Upcoming Ska is Dead releases: Reel Big Fish, Tip the Van, The Slackers, Bomb the Music Industry

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