Friday, January 19, 2018

Hollie Cook Releases "Stay Alive" Single in Advance of New "Vessel of Love" Album

To help promote the release of her new album Vessel of Love next week on 1/26/18, Hollie Cook has released the new single "Stay Alive," as well as a remix and dub by Hempolics, all of which can be listened to and downloaded from Merge Records' Soundcloud page.



Ska/reggae fans in the NYC area should be sure to catch Hollie Cook live at Elsewhere (Hall) in Brooklyn on Friday, March 23, 2017; The Far East are opening.

Cook is also playing dates this February and March in the UK, France, and in cities along the coasts of America (Durham, NC, Sommerville, MA, Washington, DC, San Francisco, CA, and Los Angeles, CA, to be exact).

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As long-time readers of this blog may know, we've loved Cook's work for some time now. Check out The Duff Guide to Ska reviews of some of her previous releases--the "That Very Night" b/w "Milk and Honey" single; her amazing self-titled debut album; the "Looking for Real Love" b/w "99" single; and her most recent "Superstar" b/w "Superdub" 2017 RSD release.

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Thursday, January 11, 2018

Melbourne Ska Orchestra To Release One Free Track Each Week in 2018!

[Editor's note: This post has been updated to correct our misunderstanding that these tracks were free to download.]

It's a nutty, but truly inspired idea--the Melbourne Ska Orchestra intends to release one song per week during 2018 as part of their "52 Selections/One Year of Ska" project (52 weeks in a year, right?).

So far, they have released terrific covers of Prince Buster's "Al Capone" and Justin Hinds and the Dominoes' "Botheration." All tracks are available for sale/streaming (you can listen to both songs via the links above) through a host of services, including Google Play, iTunes/Apple Music, Spotify, and YouTube.

You can sign up to receive email notifications reminding you when a new track is available (each Friday).

This is an extraordinary promotional effort by the band--and a big gift to ska fans around the globe.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Duff Guide to Ska NYC Winter 2018 Ska Calendar #1

The Autocratics are not playing here (yet?).
Wednesday, January 10, 2018 @ 7:00 pm

The Original Wailers, Tribal Seeds, The Expanders

Gramercy Theatre
127 East 23rd Street
New York, NY
$20

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Saturday, January 13, 2018 @ 8:00 pm

Full Watts Band with Boomshot

C'mon Everybody
325 Franklin Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$10-$12/21+

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Thursday, January 25, 2018 @ 8:00 pm

Benefit for Action Against Fascism and Xenophobia (Charlottesville Legal Fund) w/The Ladrones, SkullCaster, Out of System Transfer, Uncle Djuzeppe

The Silent Barn
603 Bushwick Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$5-$20/All ages

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Friday, February 9, 2018 @ 9:00 pm

HR and Human Rights, Crazy Baldhead Dub Apparatus

El Cortez
17 Ingraham Street
Brooklyn, NY
$15/21+

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Saturday, January 27, 2018 @ 7:00 pm

The Pietasters and High School Football Heroes

Brooklyn Bazaar
150 Greenpoint Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$17 in advance/$20 day of show
All ages

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Thursday, February 15, 2018 @ 8:00 pm

The Wailers, The Far East

Brooklyn Bowl
61 Wythe Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$20/21+

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Friday, February 23, 2018 @ 8:00 pm

The Skatalites, The Alchemystics

Brooklyn Bowl
61 Wythe Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$15/21+

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Friday, March 2, 2018 @ 7:00 pm

45 Adapters, Hub City Stompers, Legion 76, Guns Don't Run, No Parole, Los Perros

Kingsland
269 Norman Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$10/16+

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Friday, March 9, 2018 @ 7:00 pm

Coolie Ranx Birthday Bash with Pilfers, Full Watts Band, Reggay Lords, Love Always, Typhoid Rosie

Brooklyn Bazaar
150 Greenpoint Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$20/All ages

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Saturday, March 17, 2018 @ 8:00 pm

St. Patrick's Day Celebration with Beat Brigade, The Ladrones, Super Hi-Fi, Joker's Republic

RUBULAD
Bushwick, Brookyn
Get in touch with Dj Gorilla Presents through FB event page for address.
$10/All ages

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Friday, March 23, 2018 @ 7:00 pm

Hollie Cook, The Far East

Elsewhere (Hall)
599 Johnson Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$20 in advance/$22 day of show/16+

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Sunday, March 25, 2018 @ 8:00 pm

The English Beat w/Dave Wakeling

City Winery
155 Varick Street
New York, NY
$40-$60

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Monday, March 26, 2018 @ 8:00 pm

The English Beat w/Dave Wakeling

City Winery
155 Varick Street
New York, NY
$40-$60

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Friday, April 20, 2018 @ 7:00 pm

The Annual 4:20 Reggae Fiesta on the River w/Dub is a Weapon, Crazy Baldhead Dub Apparatus, plus Specials Guests TBA

Rocks Off Concert Cruise - Aboard the Harbor Lights
Boards 23rd Street and the FDR
Manhattan, NY
$29 in advance/$35 day of show
21+

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Friday, January 5, 2018

The Duff Guide to Ska Year in Ska Reviews 2017, Part 4

Unrelated image of releases and posters from NYC area ska bands.
(All reviews by Steve Shafer)

Destroy Babylon Shapeshifters (CD/digital, MusicADD, 2017): A concept album of sorts, Destroy Babylon's extraordinary Shapeshifters is a collection of angry and defiant post-punk, rock, and reggae protest songs aimed at the heart of Trumpism. Beginning with the question of "how much do you pay for protection" (from the police and criminals roaming the streets), the songs traverse a systemically racist, violent, authoritarian-leaning, war-crazy, unfettered capitalist dog-eat-dog American landscape, ending with the singer's demise at the "business end of a knife." In the midst of this, there are pleas for tolerance ("Judgement": "Hey! Leave your judgement unspoken/Shouldn't matter to you if we're living atypical lives/No, we're not gonna hurt nobody/We need no alibi"), a rumination on mortality ("Teeth Dreams": "Got a handful of my teeth staring at me, oh well/Got a long list of things that I can’t be, oh well/Got a lifetime full of enemies/I still curse missed opportunities/with this infinitely finite me, oh well"), and a song about being lulled into apathy, despite one's best intentions otherwise ("Drift": I wanted everything to change/While I stay the same/But I just drifted away")--even a classical instrumental with flute and strings called "Dance of the Demagogues"! It's one of the most unique, compelling, and disturbing records I've encountered this past year (and keep coming back to). Give it a listen!

Danny Rebel and the KGB Lovehaus (digital, Stomp Records, 2017): I'm kicking myself for missing this sleeper of a release earlier this year! Danny Rebel and the KGB's sound is a brilliant and fully-realized blend of rocksteady, roots/dubby reggae, pop, and soul--and their super-catchy songwriting and performances on Lovehaus are phenomenally top-notch. I can't stop listening to tracks like the Heptones-y "Take Me Away"; "Steady Hands" (the life of a gunslinger has to be a lonely one), a punky reggae cut that could have been on Sandinista; "Copper Mountain," which I think is about the long-dead, bad-ass pioneering inhabitants of a ghost town ("I was into anarchy before the war/I used wonder what we're fighting for/Lost my leg to an iron gun/and I never walked back to Copper Mountain") who want to know if we're satisfied with our modern lives; "When the Lights Go Out," a hauntingly beautiful lament (with ice rink organ!) for our collective--and self-inflicted--end-times ("Burn all the forests/And drain the sea/I get my advice/From a cash machine/Build bombs for civilians/Make a million, you'll see/Will we make it out alive?/And if we do/Is the sun going to shine?"); and "1601," a magnificent track that conveys the "Purple Rain"-like emotions unleashed of the end of a relationship. Make sure to check this one out! (Hey, Stomp Records--this deserves a physical release!)

Version City Rockers Fortitude (CD/digital download, Stubborn Records, 2017): As its title might suggest, there's an Old Testament, God-of-wrath vibe permeating this record. Despite significant personal and professional setbacks over the past decade--betrayal, flood, destruction, illness, and several deaths of friends and family--King Django's Job-like grit and determination to persevere (and triumph) in the face of repeated adversity are embodied in this amazing album. Based on the single--but remarkably durable--"Fortitude" riddim Django created back in 2002, this album collects sixteen versions by various dancehall and reggae greats (who contribute their own melodies and lyrics/toasts of positivity); two-thirds of these cuts were issued on 45s via the Freedom Sounds/Jamaican Version City label in 2007-2008, while the remainder are new and previously unreleased. I'm partial to takes by Johnny Osbourne ("Let There Be Love"), Prince Alla ("We No Want No Bomb"), Pompidou ("Selassie I Rule"), ex-Toaster Jack Ruby, Jr. ("Action Time"), Little John ("I Feel Good"), P-Dub ("Solitude"), Kapaichie ("One for All"), Carlton Livingston ("Vex"), and Drew Daniels ("Talk About Love")--and completely relate to King Django's mid-life perspective "The More I Learn" ("... it seem the less I want to say/Things I knew just yesterday/I'm not so sure today/I used to think in black and white/But now it's shades of gray/With open eyes and mind/For all that I survey..."). Each track is beautiful in itself, but taken as a whole, Fortitude is a powerful and profound body of music and message. Use as needed.

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Read The Duff Guide to Ska Year in Ska Reviews 2017, Part 1.

Read The Duff Guide to Ska Year in Ska Reviews 2017, Part 2.

Read The Duff Guide to Ska Year in Ska Reviews 2017, Part 3!

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Monday, January 1, 2018

Duff Review: Susan Cadogan "The Girl Who Cried Over You" Single!

Stonyhill Records
Digital (vinyl 7" single to come from Jump Up Records)
2018

(Review by Steve Shafer)

The first day of 2018 brings two new shimmering ska tracks from Susan Cadogan (who, lucky for us, continues her incredibly fruitful long-distance collaboration with the wonderfully gifted producer, songwriter, and musician Mitch "King Kong" Girio). "I Don't Want Anybody But You" (co-written by Girio and Michelle McKibbon) is about coming to the surprising but profound realization that you've found the person to spend the rest of your life with ("When the TV’s barking the news and bringing me down/And I’m stuck at the bottom/You pick me up just to carry around/Saying you’re not forgotten/My heart is telling me something.../I don’t want anybody, but you"). "The Girl Who Cried Over You"--where the singer is devastated over a relationship gone bad but won't let go--is borrowed from the 2015 Fabulous Lolo (AKA Lorraine Muller of The Kingpins, etc.) Meets King Kong Girio My Favourite Heart to Break album. Few singers express the highs and lows of romantic love so well as Cadogan. One listen to these tracks and you'll already have heard some of the best ska that will be released in 2018.

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The Duff Guide to Ska Year in Ska Reviews 2017, Part 3!

From The Duff Guide to Ska sticker collection
(click on image to enlarge)!
(All reviews by Steve Shafer)

Bad Manners Return of the Ugly (LP, Black Butcher Classics, 2017 reissue; originally released in 1989 on Blue Beat Records): Read The Duff Guide to Ska appreciation here.

Erin Bardwell Collective vs. Friends, Guests, and Studio Stars Great Western Reggae Soundclash (CD, Pop-A-Top Records, 2017): The Erin Bardwell Collective makes great, laid-back old school rocksteady and early reggae with a bit of worldbeat in the mix--think of The Trojans--and are joined here by a number of high profile friends, including Neol Davies (The Selecter), Dave Clifton (Hotknives), Pat Powell (Melbourne Ska Orchestra), Matty Bane (Neville Staple Band), and London's Nostalgia Steel Band. The connective tissue of this album is a Western reggae vibe coursing through many of the tracks, but it's really all about great songs/performances (check out "Best News of The Year," "Edith New," It's No Lie," "Dominica," "Waiting for the Conversation," or "Night Bus to Highworth"). This one may take a few listens to reveal its offbeat charms, but once it clicks--damn, it's good!

Buster's All Stars Skinhead Luv-a-fair (LP, Black Butcher Classics, 2014 reissue; originally released in 1989 on Blue Beat Records): Read The Duff Guide to Ska appreciation here.

The Busters "Hunky-Dory" b/w "Ska Bang 87" (red or clear yellow vinyl 7" single, Jump Up Records, 2017): This single off The Busters' eighteenth album (if I'm counting right) Straight Ahead features two awesome Richie Alexander penned tunes (Dr. Ring Ding has been a member of The Busters since 2013, if you're not up on the German ska scene). Side A is a great swinging-jazzy-ska tune about looking good, feeling fine, luck shining down on you, and being in love. The flip "Ska Bang 87" is a cracking instrumental that swipes a bit of the riff from The Rolling Stones' "Miss You."

Susan Cadogan "Don't Know Why" (Three track digital single, Stonyhill Records, 2017): Read The Duff Guide to Ska review here.

Hollie Cook "Superstar" b/w "Superdub" (free Record Store Day 7"/digital download, Merge Records, 2017): Read The Duff Guide to Ska review here.

The Dirty Notion The Dirty EP (CD/digital, Abbey Productions, 2016): Read The Duff Guide to Ska review here.

The Georgetown Orbits "Keep Your Chin Up" b/w "Picture on the Wall" (7" vinyl picture sleeve single/digital, Simmerdown Productions, 2017): Read The Duff Guide to Ska review here.

Napoleon Solo Early Recordings: First Demos - 1984/1985 (Six-track, limited-edition vinyl EP, Jump Up Records, 2017): Ska old-timers will remember this fantastic Danish ska-soul act from the late 1980s--their How to Rule the World EP and Shot! LP are very much worth tracking down, and they contributed really winning tracks like "I Don't Believe You" to Skankin' 'Round the World, Volume II, "Drive Me Wild" to Live in London: The London International Ska Festival, and "Go Home" to Ska United. This new EP features the band's early cassette-only demos which contain some very catchy material that probably should have turned up later on proper releases. "0059," "Nobody Told Me," the "Ghost Town-ish" "What Comes After Spring," and the South African anti-apartheid cut "Victory" ("ANC is going to make them free/ANC is going to lead to victory") are particularly good.

NST and The Soul Sauce Back When Tigers Smoked (CD/digital, Eastern Standard Sounds, 2017): Read The Duff Guide to Ska review here.

Pama International Love and Austerity (Heavyweight LP/CD/digital, Happy People Records, 2017): Read The Duff Guide to Ska review here.

Pama International "Man Next Door" b/w "Austerity Skank" (clear vinyl 7" single/digital download, Record Kicks, 2017): Read The Duff Guide to Ska review here.

The Red Stripes In the Ska East (CD, Mod Sound Records, 2017): Read The Duff Guide to Ska review here.

Smiley and The Underclass Rebels Out There (CD/LP/digital, Bredda Records, 2017): Read The Duff Guide to Ska review here.

Neville Staple Return of Judge Roughneck (CD/2 x LP, Cleopatra Records, 2017): Read The Duff Guide to Ska review here.

The Stiff Joints First Proper Album (CD/digital, self-released, 2017): Read The Duff Guide to Ska review here.

Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra Paradise Has No Borders (CD/LP/digital, Nacional Records, 2017): Read The Duff Guide to Ska review here.