Friday Top 5: Ska-Punk Bands
There are several things that most people associate with music bloggers; either we’re super arrogant about our tastes, or just have loads of free time and connections. For the most part, I think people tend to put me in the first category, considering I have a full-time job that isn’t this web site, but I feel like I always have to justify myself, proving I’m not a snob. I’m pretty sure my love for this genre establishes my inability to escape mockery in all instances. It’s true, I love ska/ska-punk, whatever you call it. I spent loads of weekends as a teen dancing at Liberty Lunch or Voodoo Lounge. I figured in admitting my lack of cool, I’d also admit my favorites.
I can’t say exactly if this qualifies as super ska-punk, or more just punk rock, but I really dug my introduction to this band via “Here In Your Bedroom.” This was definitely a ska-punk track, and that breakdown in the chorus completely made me jump about my room. I liked the fact that they didn’t take themselves too seriously, and I think for a time, I could still play the part of Tim Dog in the song “Phonecall” from their self-titled debut. For the genre, they did a great job of combining some really great pop-punk elements with ska.
These guys definitely had me skanking around my room on a regular basis. I’m pretty sure I even got my parents to a little bit of skanking with me, just because they thought it was cool I was coming out of my pre-teen metal days. They had this track “My Town” that had an awesome horn section, and each time I put on their record Twenty Eight Teeth, you could pretty much guarntee it was going to go all the way through, and then I’d press repeat once again.
Admittedly, this band’s really hard to take for a lot of people who loved “traditional” ska. Look, I like the Specials and Skattelites just as much as the next guy, but why can’t you have a little bit of fun at the same time? Reel Big Fish were everything you wanted in a ska-punk band: humor and energy. I feel like they also included these punk breakdowns in every single track, and if they didn’t, they made sure to include a solid little horn solo. I can remember blasting this all over the city of Austin on my way to soccer practice with my friend Stephen.
You can’t have a ska-punk list without throwing the Impossibles on this list. They were perhaps one of the reasons I fell deep into the collecting habit of music, such as Cassette Compilations and 7″s. I can’t tell you how many Friday nights we’d all pile into a car with a few cases of beer, and head down to Liberty Lunch or Emos, drink a few beers, then sing along to every single word these guys ever wrote, only breaking for a minute while Rory sang “Francis.” If you were around, you remember those shows, and odds are you loved them as much as we did. Whether you liked these guys or not, you really have to respect their place in the history of Austin’s music scene. Come on, dudes had matching baseball jerseys! That was way cool back in 97.
1. The Hippos
Just as an example of my early fandom, my friend Paul once told me these guys came in after their show to Kerbey Lane while he was working. I immediately applied, hoping to get a job, just so I could see these types of bands, and ask them all sorts of geeky questions. Yea, I was that ska-punk kid. Their first record, Forget the World, made it all the way through collge with me, still getting plays. I can still sing every word by that band, and I have no qualms with that. I’m not sure if it was their cover of The Police’s “So Lonely,” or the fact that they had a ginger in the band, but man, they were incredible. I even followed their career, hoping they would secretly get their form back, win me over, and all that, but I didn’t really need it, as I have, and will always have, those first two albums to remind me of my favorite ska-punk band.
Looking back over this post, I see that I’m struggling to find words that really fit the genre, well, descriptors at least. It’s true, it’s really hard to define both this era in music, as well as in my life. I can only sum it up by saying that the whole time period where I was deeply immersed in ska was fueled by a desire for high-energy shows and pure fun. That’s what ska-punk was, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Feel free to drop a name about your favorite ska band; come on, let’s take a trip down memory lane.