Music Review: Cherry Poppin’ Daddies – Skaboy JFK: The Skankin’ Hits of the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies

Hey!

Over the last 20 years, the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies (CPD) may have been pigeonholed in some fans’ minds as a swing group. Fans of the band know they do so much more than swing and have been involved in the ska scene forever. Skaboy JFK: The Skankin’ Hits of the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies focuses on the band’s ska hits from the past and a few new tracks for good measure.

Skaboy JFK focuses on the 1960s-era up-tempo form of pre-reggae Jamaican Soul known as ska. What is ska? For me it boils down to mixing Swing with Punk — a horn section, rock guitars, and an attitude. There are many definitions of ska, but they all seem to start in Jamaica and the UK in the 1960s and end when both RBF and No Doubt appeared in or near the mainstream in the 1990s. Personally, I don’t buy that ska is dead.

CPD toured with many of the big ska bands when they were coming up in popularity, including the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Fishbone, Reel Big Fish, The Specials, No Doubt, and Madness. During those days, they were focused on the “Zoot Suit Riot” fans, so they didn’t play a ton of ska in their sets.

Now in 2009 with two albums coming out on the same day, you’d think there would be more repeated tracks. But there’s only one track – “Hi and Lo” – duplicated between Susquehanna and Skaboy JFK, so if you pick up both albums you won’t be disappointed. With 12 amazing tracks on Skaboy JFK and 13 more on Susquehanna you can have a long swing/ska set that lasts a couple of hours!

Skaboy JFK focuses on the different waves of ska music – Traditiona/Bluebeat (“2:29,” “Soul Cadillac”), Two Tone (“Hammerblow,” “Skaboy JFK”), Third Wave (“Hi and Lo,” “Sockable Face Club”) and even a Fishbone-esque hybrid for good measure (“Slapstick”).

On the album, there’s definitely a few favorites of mine… “Sockable Face Club” being at the top of the list. Full of energy at an insane pace, it’s tough to object with lyrics like “You’re in my Sockable Face Club / You gotta punchable face, bub / Grab him, nab him / Everything you do makes me feel like you need to get a blackened eye…” Frenetic energy talking about a fight in the bathroom… And with piano licks that drive the song all the way through, this is one toe-tapping, fist-fighting ska tune.

Then there’s “Cosa Nostra,” which again focuses on a fight – this time it’s a day in the life of a mobster. “It takes some pressure to make a diamond / It takes some losin’ to win a soul / It takes a bleak house to run away from / It takes a warm bed to appreciate the cold world inside of you…” Who would have thought that being a mobster was so lyrical? The music takes a step back, with muted trumpets and a bass line that leads you through the mobster’s life.

I’m not sure what makes me like these songs about fighting, but I have to say that the music and energy in all of the tracks will keep me coming back for years to come.

Be sure to check out Susquehanna and Skaboy JFK: The Skankin’ Hits of the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies when they are released on September 29, 2009 and check out their website www.daddies.com for upcoming news and tour dates! It’s great that the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies have returned with new music to prove that ska and swing are far from dead.

–Fitz

p.s. Be sure to check out this and other great Cherry Poppin’ Daddies music at Amazon below!

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Music Review: Matt York – Mine

Hey all…

I have to admit that before this album, I hadn’t heard of Matt York. Then I heard the first track of Mine and had to hear more. “Death Came a Knockin'” is most definitely a gospel tune, but it captured my soul immediately. There was a purity to it that drew me back to the rest of Mine. Was I disappointed? I have to admit I was a little disappointed.

If the rest of the album included more gospel-style tunes like “Death Came a Knockin'” I probably wouldn’t be disappointed at all… but the rest of the album hits me like Lenny Kravitz going Motown, which didn’t always work for me.

That said, I think York has crafted a good album. It’s pretty low-key musically, with a pretty consistent pulse. The album landscape has a few hills and valleys, but the only stand-out song for me was the first one. After that, I do have a couple of favorites — “Lucky Man” speaks to me of a man in a committed relationship who feels lucky to be with the one he’s with; and “It’s All Fire” just has a lovely melody with some beautiful harmonies along with the guitar.

York toured for three years and nearly 750 shows for his first record Under the Streetlights, working his way across North America, Japan, and Australia. He even released a DVD in March 2008 of some of his concert footage (filmed by Dan Ramirez, who also worked with the Dave Matthews Band and O.A.R.). At the end of the tour, York was feeling the effects of the road, but decided to work on his sophomore record rather than taking a break.

He teamed up with Brad Stella and Joel Parisien to create the tracks for what eventually became Mine over the next few months. York grew up listening to Motown and gospel and wanted to go back to that feel for this album. He and his new five-piece band will most likely be on tour again later in the year to showcase Mine.

Overall Mine was a good album, just not what I expected after hearing the first track. If you are a fan of the Motown sound, I’d definitely recommend Mine as something to check out!

Track listing:
1. Death Came A Knockin’
2. Tomorrow
3. Let Me Go
4. Someday
5. Give Me Love
6. Those Days
7. Lucky Man
8. Hard Days
9. Mine
10. It’s All Fire
11. Now And Then

Definitely an album worth checking out!

–Fitz

p.s. Pick it up at your local retailer or Amazon:

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