Friday, July 24, 2015

Duff Guide to Ska NYC Summer 2015 Ska Calendar #10

Oreskaband from Japan
Thursday, July 30, 2015 @ 7:00 pm

Oreskaband, The Pandemics, The Ladrones, Go Big

Gramercy Theater
127 East 23rd Street
All ages

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Saturday, August 1, 2015 @ 6:00 pm

The Slackers

Rocks Off Booze Cruise
The Nautical Empress
Board the boat at 299 South Street, Manhattan

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Monday, August 3, 2015 @ 6:30 pm

"Legends of Ska: Cool and Copasetic" Documentary

Film Society of Lincoln Center
165 West 65th Street
Manhattan, NY

Q and A after the film with the director and percussionist Larry McDonald!

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Sunday, August 16, 2015 @ 1:00 pm

Swing-A-Ling Backyard BBQ w/The Frightnrs

Pioneer Works
159 Pioneer Street
Brooklyn, NY

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Friday, August 21, 2015 @ 6:00 pm

Rude Boy George

Toshi's Living Room and Penthouse
1141 Broadway (at 26th Street)
New York, NY
No cover!

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Saturday, August 22, 2015 @ 1:00 pm (music from 2:00 pm to 9:00 pm)

Governors Island Seafood and Reggae Beach Party w/Badfish, Cannabis Cup Band, Gary Nesta Pine, Top Shotta Band featuring Screechy Dan, New Breed Brass Band, DJ Jah Culture

Governors Island
New York Harbor
Ferry from South Street

Tix: Music only are $40; music and food are $60.

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Sunday, September 6, 2015 @ 6:00 pm

The Expanders, Tribal Seeds, Arise Roots

Brooklyn Bowl
61 Wythe Avenue
Brooklyn, NY

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Friday, September 11, 2015 @ 7:30 pm

Mephiskapheles, Inspecter 7, and The Ladrones

Asbury Lanes
209 4th Avenue
Asbury Park, NJ

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Sunday, September 20, 2015 @ 6:00 pm

Fishbone and special guests TBA

Brooklyn Bowl
61 Wythe Avenue
Brooklyn, NY

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Saturday, October 24, 2015 @ 10:00 pm

Rude Boy George

Toshi's Living Room and Penthouse
1141 Broadway (at 26th Street)
New York, NY
No cover!

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015 @ 8:00 pm

UB40 featuring Ali Campbell, Astro, and Mickey Virtue

Webster Hall
125 East 11th Street
Manhattan, NY

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Saturday, October 31, 2015 @ 7:00 pm

Halloween Party w/Rude Boy George

Toshi's Living Room and Penthouse
1141 Broadway (at 26th Street)
New York, NY
No cover!
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(Bands: Want your ska shows posted here? Send your NYC area gig dates with all details to!)

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Frightnrs on Mad Decent: Free Download and upcoming EP and 7"!

In what is a very significant development for a band from NYC's under-the-radar ska/reggae scene, Mad Decent--Diplo's label (Major Lazer, Santogold, Snoop Lion)--is releasing a digital EP and 7" from Queens, NY's very own Frightnrs in August 2015 (and this is in addition to the band's recent "I'd Rather Go Blind" single on Daptone)!

To help promote this release, you can hear/download The Frightnrs' "Admiration" (expertly produced by Victor "Ticklah" Axelrod), as well as a dubby EDM remix of the track by Toddla T and Cadenza, by checking out the Mad Decent Soundcloud page.

"Admiration" was originally released on The Frightnrs' fantastic 12/21/12 digital EP (read The Duff Guide to Ska review of it here). This is what I had to say about the track a while back:

"The unfairly-accused narrator (more fool for a pretty face than anti-hero) of the spaghetti Western cut "Admiration" ("They're gonna punish me for something that I didn't do!") is desperately determined to evade his pursuers, since capture will certainly subject him to vigilante justice: "I didn't know her before today/Now, I'll walk across the sand/and I'll sail across the sea/They've got their nooses ready/hanging underneath a tree/With their horses and their guns/they've got this man on the run/But what I have done remains a mystery to me." The precise and relentless beat of this track conveys the pressured urgency of continually pushing forward to stay free and, more importantly, alive--while a ringing, almost shimmering solo guitar line conveys his loneliness as he plods across a bleak, sun-baked landscape that stretches to the horizon and offers no sanctuary."

The Frightnrs are phenomenally good! Here's hoping that Mad Decent bring The Frightnrs the recognition and fans they deserve!

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Update 7/24/15: The title of The Frightnrs new six-track EP is Inna Lovers Quarrel and the iTunes pre-order is on now.

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Monday, July 20, 2015

Duff Review: Eastern Standard Time "The Dragon" b/w "Miles and Miles"

Vinyl 7" single
Available through Jump Up Records

(Review by Steve Shafer)

Eastern Standard Time's terrific new single "The Dragon" b/w "Miles and Miles" was released to co-incide with their recently completed 2015 summer European tour (Italy, France, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands, and more; it's criminal that they're bigger over there than they are in the USA)--as well as the band's 20th (!) anniversary.

The A side is a crisp, top-shelf, ska-jazz original instrumental (love the vibraphone!) complete with subtle 50s/60s sci-fi/flying saucer effects mixed in--perhaps they're referring to this space dragon? (Note the abstract, 1950s picture sleeve cover art that wouldn't be out of place on the cover of an Isaac Asimov or Ray Bradbury collection of short stories or an Eisenhower-era issue of Analog.) "Miles and Miles" is I-Peace Unikue's sweet and soulful entreaty to a special someone to spend their life's journey together:

"Let's take a stroll tonight
Leaving inhibitions and cares behind
You and I
I wanna take the long way with your hand in mine

Baby, I'm in love with you
Every day I want you more and more
Let's discuss what I propose to do
I want to make your dreams come true

Cause every time I see your smile
Forgive me if I stare for awhile
But that's because we'll be together until the end of time

Baby take a walk with me
We could walk for miles and miles and miles and miles..."

Eastern Standard Time write great vintage ska songs that are performed with impeccable musicianship--it doesn't get much better than this!

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Ska Music Yearbook 2014 from Reggae, Steady, Ska!

The amazing ska fans at Reggae, Steady, Ska (lead by The Braces' Joachim Uerschels) have issued The Ska Music Yearbook 2014--an impressive and comprehensive look back at what took place in the ska scene worldwide last year. This 107-page (!) digital yearbook includes an extensive list of ska releases in 2014; a detailed calendar of events and ska festivals; interviews with Derrick Harriott, The Aggrolites, Toulouse Skanking Foundation, Buster Shuffle, Rhoda Dakar, ska author Heather Augustyn, Monty Alexander, The Melbourne Ska Orchestra, Alpha Boys School Radio, Style Scott, Rude Boy George, and The Pannonia Allstars Ska Orchestra; a feature on the Coventry Music Museum/2 Tone Trail; lots of ska "best of" lists for 2014; and more, all for a little under 3 euros!

The Ska Music Yearbook 2014 is a fantastic resource for the casual ska fan who wants to catch up on what he/she missed in 2014, as well as the ska obsessives amongst us who need to know everything!  Support the ska scene--and this labor of love-like coverage of it--by picking up this yearbook now!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Duff Review: The Meow Meows "Friends on Benefits" EP

Jump Up Records
Limited Edition 7" single on orange vinyl

(Review by Steve Shafer)

Brighton, UK's ferociously good Meow Meows have followed-up their stellar debut album (read The Duff Guide to Ska's review of The Meow Meow's Somehow We Met debut album here) with the equally amazing, Prince Fatty-produced Friends on Benefits three-song vinyl EP.

While this overtly political and progressive band with a Specials meets Deltones sound continues its terrifically barbed criticism of Prime Minister David Cameron's conservative policies and their deleterious effect on everyday Britons on the wonderfully catchy title track, astute Americans on this side of the Atlantic with an ounce of empathy in their hearts will recognize the cruelty and shame intentionally inflicted by Republican politicians on people down on their luck who have no other choice but to go through the purposefully humiliating experience of relying on the (meager) benefits of the welfare state.

"Oh take a seat
Wait for your name
Wait for your number, await your fate
'Cause it's a waiting game

Don't show your hand
Don't show your pride
Just tick the boxes, lock your options
As you die inside

That plan you had
Where has it gone?
Lie down, get up, jump down
Stick out your hand, you scrounging scum

Would you smile if I gave you a hand?
A little something that would make you a man
Friends on benefits, you're selling this
Hear my nemesis, reaping all the benefits

Run a mile, gotta make new plans
Force a smile, gotta shake some hands
Friends with benefits
I'm getting it, check my blemishes
Keeping all the benefits"

And in these days of extraordinary economic inequality, with everything rigged to benefit only those at the top and its dearth of decent non-fast food/Walmart type jobs, those fortunate to find employment oftentimes are stuck in drone-like, dead end positions that deny people their hopes for their lives...

"And here I am
Chained to a desk
Pushing my pen around
How did my life become grotesque?
Ignore the hurt, squash down my dreams
Drown out the stats and facts, and tear them down with angry screams

What about all my plans, where've they gone?
Wake up, shut up, don't moan
Be grateful you've a job at all"

I'd be remiss if I also didn't point out the cheeky double-entendre at play here--friends with/on benefits--and the implication that a little physical companionship might just help keep the unemployed friend feeling human enough and give them the psychological strength to face another day on the dole!

The menacingly dark and haunting "London Road" may refer to the 2006 Ipswich serial killings of five sex workers (who earned their money along London Road) committed by forklift operator Steve Wright (who also lived on London Road). It takes a very sympathetic view of the sex workers' plight (and the circumstances and addictions that led them down this path)--during the bridge of the song, one of the women laments, "Hello? I'm lost, can you help me? I'm lost on London Road..." The final lyrics of the song urge the women to get away from the very real perils of that red light district (as well as that "life") before it's too late.

On "Tits and Hatred," the conservative tabloids come under The Meow Meows' spot-on and withering fire for preying on the very worst instincts in humanity to turn a profit (and serving a hateful, bigoted agenda)--with no concern of how this affects the people or the policies of the nation. (Implicit in this criticism is how the tabloids have abandoned their basic mission of accurately informing the public of events in the world around them and, in a system of checks and balances, serving as a watchdog/source of reliable information on governmental activities, so that the citizens of a nation can be fully informed, in order to effectively participate in the political process.)

"We're all going to hell
And you're welcome for the ride
My handcart's almost full
Because it's filled with national pride

So tell me the story
It better be gory
Or sex is implied

Some of my best friends are black
And that makes it OK
As long as it's not in my face
Don't mind if you are gay

But behind the curtains
Different versions
Give you away

More salacious allegations
Fear and loathing, immigration
Can we get some degradation
Titillation, desperation
We don't need no education
Add a little provocation
Accusations, defamation
Tits and hatred
Sell the papers

Romanians are swarming
And there's nothing we can do
I read it in the paper
So, it's definitely true

They're coming over here
Taking all our jobs
For minimum wage

And women when you're walking
Be cautious what you wear
It's not the rapist's fault
Because you need to take more care

And what about Page Three?
Oh, they have dignity
You're kidding yourself

More salacious allegations
Fear and loathing, immigration
Can we get some degradation
Titillation, desperation
We don't need no education
Add a little provocation
Accusations, defamation
Tits and hatred
Sell the papers
Tits and hatred"

Brighton's calling--and though the news may be bleak, we all need to hear the message.

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