(Review by Steve Shafer)
Even though he's been involved in the NY/NJ-area ska scene since the '90s (in bands like Inspecter 7 and The Rudie Crew), Lucky Devil Trading Company is Bret Calder Curran's first solo project--backed by some of the best musicians on the ska scene (Buford O'Sullivan, John Roy, Eddie Ocampo, Agent Jay, Ali Presses, Anton Major, Spencer Katzman, and Irena Jaroszewska)--where he's written both the lyrics and music. The terrific Exotic Exports Volume 1 features his first two tracks, which boast a razor-sharp, Third Wave take on traditional ska sound married to hardcore/Lee Ving-ish vocals by Casey Eastmond--an unorthodox pairing that stands out for working so well (as it does for his other current band, The End Times, whose debut EP I reviewed here).
"The Haze" is a Tales from the Crypt-like story about seeking release from a demonic possession set to a blue beat (and the bass line, appropriately enough, reminds one of Steve Miller Band's "Abracadabra").
Into the alleys of Cairo I go
Search for the man with the face no one knows
I have travelled across the world to get set free
I know there’s only one man who can help me
Another coin and I'm told where to go
A hidden den just the Mysticals know
Open the door to the man that I seek
He knows black magic that’s not for the weak
The Shaman’s found
This time I know
The endless pit I go
I start to lose my grip
I feel the world has slipped
And I fall in to The Haze
The sinister and stellar Skatalites/Scofflaws horn-driven cut "Tornado" is about being the baddest MF in an unforgiving place: "Whirlwinds and room shakes/Lost lives, tough breaks/Living in this world, there’s no room for mistakes/Walking in loud, walking in proud/Rolling in…like a tornado..." Crank this one up to 11 the next time you're about to confront your fears and feel like you're about to walk through the valley of the shadow of Death.
+ + + +