Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Duff Guide to Ska Fast Takes: King Kong Girio, Boomtown United

(Reviews by Steve Shafer)

Before releasing two new, forthcoming EPs he's produced for Susan Cadogan and his own King Kong Four, King Kong Girio (ex-King Apparatus) has issued a sensational new single "When The Needle Drops" (digital, Bandcamp, 2018) that shouldn't be missed. Originally penned for another artist (who passed on it) and then shelved until Girio recently rediscovered it, the track is a slightly melancholy ("But time abandons/and leaves us here/Where we don't want to stay") but thoroughly nostalgic and heartfelt homage to the 1960s JA ska originators: "Was it the best of what you are/on a scratched up 45?/Because when that needle drops/Your music comes alive/When we look back/We can see where it all began/So long ago/You're not forgotten." Maybe it all was better then, but I'm pretty happy in the here and now with songs like this. Keep 'em coming!

St. Louis, MO's Boomtown United recently popped up on my radar through their contribution of "Work It Out" to the excellent Jump Up/Ska Brewing compilation Drink the Ska (read The Duff Guide to Ska review here). Their new, five-track, self-titled EP (digital, iTunes/Amazon, 2018) is full of extremely catchy and must-sing-along modern/post-2 Tone ska tracks. The urgent, slightly desperate (and shades of "English Civil War") "Outside" is fantastic rebel music: "Times are often tumultuous/A condition in the way in which we live/Searching for hope/Lost in the shadows/And the chances are rail thin/Down and out/That's how they found us/And they never really count us in...Oh, it may seem kind of ugly/That's just the way it is/We may seem kind of dangerous/From the outside looking in!" (An anthem for the resistance? You decide.) The unquenchable desire/lust in "Love Like Fire" (which boils down to: "Hot to the touch/I can't get enough") is conveyed in the dissonant trills of the sax, which are the aural equivalent of flames of fire. "Too Many Chances" lays out the inevitable after it's all gone bad ("The seeds of separation are starting to grow/Now time will tell us what we already know"), while "The Calling" is a soulful lament for musicians and their partners--I love you, but I've got to hit the road. Fans of bands like The Crombies and The Dirty Notion will be instant converts to Boomtown United (the Midwest ska scene has got it going on!). This is a band to keep an eye on...

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