Tag Archives: Ska

Random Order – Black Lipstick Kiss Album Review

Taking cues from Twin Peaks, James Bond and Quentin Tarantino films, Toronto based collective Random Order’s spine tingling swamp rock reggae attracts a diverse cultural audience. Their newest offering, Black Lipstick Kiss, which was released 29 July, injects their signature subversive rock into the sexy soundscapes of dangerous spy movies.

Since their inception in 1995, Random Order have consistently released great material, toured Canada, the East Coast and Japan, played Festivals, charted on Canadian Top 30 and opened for artists as diverse as Joan Osborne and Salt-n-Pepa.

Black Lipstick Kiss starts with The Morning After Kill which showcases Random Order’s strange combination of reggae, soul and rock with influences from Imelda May and Diana Ross being heard in the vocals. It’s a punchy yet seductive song which makes it an instantly great opening track.

The title track, Black Lipstick Kiss, appears next on the record. Black Lipstick Kiss is a soulful song where the seductive guitar riff and jazz drum beat compliment those sexy and gorgeous vocals.

The next track, Do It Quattro, is a great jam track where the vocals are suspended entirely; this track is solely about Random Order’s rock/reggae style – it’s totally all about the music. Do It Quattro has a distinct live sound – it’s raw giving it that automatic enthusiasm.

Spoiled is a silky track; the guitar is summery and soft while the vocals are airy and bright sounding. If you’ve ever seen Ten Things I Hate About You then Spoiled has a similar sound to the band, Save Ferris, who perform I Know at the school ball. Spoiled is reminiscent of No Doubt with its swing and reggae influences. It’s a brilliant upbeat song to get you moving.

Trans Mission on the other hand lends itself to sound a little bit like Patti Smith especially on the vocals. The track is much darker than those heard previously on Black Lipstick Kiss. The notes held resemble Patti’s deeper vocals and there’s also a bit of spoken word with that angst and punk attitude that Patti has.

Pink Cloud closes the record on an upbeat, pop and totally absorbed reggae beat. This song will instantly lift your mood despite the lyrics, “I want to ride on your pink cloud/Even though I know it’s going nowhere/And I know it’s going to break…” Pink Cloud sings about being totally in love with someone or something and not caring about the consequences or worrying that the cloud could fall apart, “I know I’m going to be the one to fall…You don’t even know you gave up the fight to trust/In anyone a long time ago”. It’s about the danger and the passion behind our human reactions.

Random Order’s Black Lipstick Kiss is a brilliant reggae/rock/ska album that will make you fall in love with this band’s sound.

Leave a comment

Filed under Music, Reviews

Introducing…The Hostiles

The Hostiles capture the upbeat energy of US west coast ska punk in the scarcely-sunny climes of west coast Scotland. Their take is spirited and infectious, combining distorted guitars riffs, low-slung rhythms, in-your-face vocals and a two-pronged brass backbone of trumpet and trombone. It’s an engaging formula that’s cultivated a sturdy following and national recognition as well as amassing a strong reputation on the live circuit for delivering a set that is laced with high octane energy.

Born in Ayr back in 2001, The Hostiles started with brothers Josh (guitar) and Chris (bass), who grew up in the States listening to the likes of Reel Big Fish, NOFX and No Doubt. After moving to Scotland in their teens, they were introduced to heavier skacore acts like Capdown, Lightyear and King Prawn by local like-minded ska-lovers including Callum Douglas (drums) and Steve Bruce (trombone). (The current line-up was later completed by Ruaridh Crumlish on trumpet). From these foundations, The Hostiles’ sound was formed – a sound they continue to hone with each record release and every ear-ringing, sweat-drenched live performance.

The band’s recording output has always been prolific and after a string of early EPs, The Hostiles released their debut full-length album, Always Looking Forward, in April 2009 with Matt Harvey, produced by Tim G (Sonic Boom Six, Random Hand) and mastered by Peter Miles (The King Blues, Failsafe). The album marked a significant step forward for the band with a release night show in Glasgow supporting Catch 22, followed by an 18 date tour. The tour was a rampant success and it helped Always Looking Forward find a home with Cardiff-based label, Go Steady Records. Warmly received by the underground ska scene, Always Looking Forward established The Hostiles as one of Scotland’s most respected ska bands. Their rise in profile continued and in 2010, The Hostiles’ tracks were featured on several compilations in Japan, USA, UK and Italy, helping them boost their international presence. The following year, the band’s frequent flyer miles soared with a four week European tour which including shows across the continent, and in August 2012, amidst preparations for their second full-length album, the Late Nights and Early Hours EP emerged. Demonstrating a harder-edged sound, it captures the band at their most confident, ready to take on, with a grin, whatever is thrown their way.

During the past eighteen months, the ska punkers have vigorously toured throughout the UK, playing with Reel Big Fish, Less Than Jake, Spunge, Mad Caddies, Zebrahead, Sonic Boom Six, The King Blues, Random Hand, Leftover Crack, The Toasters, The Damned, Strike Anywhere, Streetlight Manifesto and Capdown, to name a few. The Hostiles also hit the studio to continue work on their new album as well as laying down their brand new single For A Good Time Call 07946058526. The video for For A Good Time features Scottish model Amanda Hendrick.

Leave a comment

Filed under Music, News

Umbrella Bed – Refill EP Review

Umbrella Bed  is a ska/2tone/alternative group whose wildly energetic live shows have brought them across Europe twice as well as many major shows in the U.S. Inspired by acts like English Beat and the Dead Milkmen, Umbrella Bed have teamed up with independent anti-racist and socially conscious label Mad Butcher Records to release the brand new EP, Refill.

Picking up on a 2Tone ska sound might have seemed like a strange choice in the summer of 1995 when Umbrella Bed first assembled itself into existence. After all, the 2Tone ska sound had a very shortlived period 15 years earlier and, without a doubt, in 1995 the newly reborn ska genre ‘third wave’ was creating a much harder edged ska sound.

Thirdwave ska was very much guided by the rise of the alternative music scene and infused ska with a more punk/grunge bent. It moved the ska sound pretty far away from 2Tone’s inherent pop roots. But 2Tone’s shorter life had also left a lot of room to explore. And explore Umbrella Bed has.

Five full length releases, hundreds of wildly energetic shows and two European tours later, doing anything but build on 2Tone’s legacy would have been a tragic loss. By taking the alternative minded but accessible framework the 2Tone sound offered and infusing it with it’s own diverse sensibilities and influences, Umbrella Bed discovered a unique blend which resonates as something different in the alternative music realm and also something with mass appeal.

The band also independently released full length albums in 1996 (King Size) and 1998 (Monkey’s and Rivets). Distributed by OarFin Records, both were solid sellers. In 2003 a relationship with German based label Mad Butcher Records marked a new phase of work. Umrella Bed has since released three albums: 2003’s Last Band Standing, 2005’s One Small Skank… and 2008’s GO on the independent internationally distributed anti-racist and socially conscious label.

Each album is wrapped beautifully in a 2Tone framework while infusing swing, punk, reggae, Latin, new wave and good traditional Jamican sounds with the Refill EP following suit. Lyrically Umbrella Bed’s sardonic take on love and politics are the well layered finishing touches.

As a live act Umbrella Bed has also played support role to a who’s who in the ska/reggae world including The Skatalities, The Specials, English Beat, The Toasters, Mustard Plug, King Chango, MU330, Mad Sin, The Selector and many others.

The band’s primary line up has rotated some over the years but has remained largely intact. Lead vocalist Hellrocket, drummer Dutch Buddha, trombonist Al Teagarden and ska’s premier French Horn player Eva Washburn have been around from day one. Trombonist O’Joya and saxophonist DJ WayCool have been with the band nearly a decade. Recent additions Franknos on bass and Rude Boy Bandit on guitar have added a new youth movement to a band on the tail end of its second decade proving there is a lot more history to come.

The band have released two new music videos in support of the EP, Two Tone Monster and Wish That It Would Stop. The new EP Refill is five tracks of ska bliss. Starting track Wish That It Would Stop introduces this band’s energy from the first note. Despite the song’s downbeaten message with the lyrics, “I live a life that I hate/I hate it/Just really hate it” this song is considerably upbeat with the ska tones lifting your mood. The second track Gone Away introduces a darker side to Umbrella Bed’s music. It has an unnerving, wistful guitar riff accompanied by a repetitive bass line and drum beat.

Got It Wrong Now is a lively, danceable number with juxtaposing lyrics. It tells a sad story about someone who has misinterpreted the intensity of a relationship, “You seem a little in doubt…I got it wrong now/You’ll never say I do”.

Two Tone Monster is a bit of a silly song about the band’s chosen choice of genre, 2Tone ska. It’s a harmless pop/ska song with some awesome trumpet solos. Dubb Away finishes the EP perfectly. As the title suggests, it’s a completely instrumental track highlighting the drum and bass rhythms. Dubb Away allows Umbrella Bed to really show off their musicality – they are brilliant at creating jazz influenced ska beats that just fit together perfectly.

After watching Umbrella Bed’s latest videos, you’ll understand why this band has the reputation it does. All the members are full of life and passion – they enjoy performing and creating music whether it be about politics or just nonsense, far from important life events. It’s a little bit like watching your Dad in a band – it’s slightly embarassing first of all, you’re not sure what to make of it but then you become proud. If these guys still have this amount of energy nearly two decades into their career, they are doing well. You can’t fault them for that.

Umbrella Bed don’t conform in the way other bands might – they don’t claim to have the best vocals, the greatest sense of fashion or looks like Kate Beckingsale or Johnny Depp. You get what you see – down to earth people making music and having fun.

The new EP Refill is out now.

Leave a comment

Filed under Music, Reviews