The Duff Guide to Ska Year in Ska Reviews 2017, Part 2!

From The Duff Guide to Ska patch collection (click on image to enlarge).(Reviews by Steve Shafer)The Applecores The Applecores EP (Five-track digital EP, self released, 2017): This female-fronted reggae-rock-pop NYC outfit (think Sublime crossed with No Doubt) delivers some fine originals on their debut–the break-up cut “Holding Hands” is particularly affecting–plus they do a great cover of Drake’s “One Dance.”The Bakesys “Golden Brown Slices of Toast” (free digital single, Do the Dog Music, 2017): Read The Duff Guide to Ska review here

Duff Review: The Stiff Joints "First Proper Album"

Self-releasedCD/digital download2017(Review by Steve Shafer)On the surface, the new(ish) First Proper Album from The Stiff Joints is simply incredibly good fun, as the cover image suggests. The band plays amped-up, hook-filled, sing-along-to-the-chorus modern/2 Tone-inspired ska that may remind one of Madness, The Busters, or The Toasters (they must be a blast to see live). However, despite the good-time musical zaniness, the lyrics (full of word-play) reveal that life in The Stiff Joints’ version of the world is kind of off-kilter and crappy–and some of the catchiest and most compelling tunes on the album are the darkest

Duff Review: The Bakesys "More Bakesys"

Do the Dog Music2017CD EP(Review by Steve Shafer)The battered emergency call box on this EP’s cover (999 in the UK = 911 in the USA) and reference to The Specials’ mournful, end-of-days, furious-at-Thatcher album in its title (and font) should quickly clue the more perceptive ska fan to what they’re in for thematically with The Bakesys’ More Bakesys–protest music for the age of austerity, Brexit, and Theresa May. And what fantastic music it is!Drawing musical inspiration from the stripped-down, minor key, and keyboard-focused ska of The Specials’ Ghost Town EP, as well as the output of The Specials’ musical descendants The Dead 60s, The Bakesys’ have created a powerful set of songs that provide sharp social commentary on life during economic wartime. “Anything and Everything,” “If You Ain’t Got It (You’ll Never Get It),” and “No Time Counting Sheep” address communities being devastated through mass unemployment and government cutbacks to public services (“Nothing left standing in this forgotten town/The shops are closed/They’ve all gone away/Nothing to spend around here anyway”), extreme economic inequality (“The river’s too deep/The mount is too high/The valley’s too wide/So don’t even try”–we’re way past “Enjoy Yourself” these days), and the soul-crushing grind of what work there is to be had–that never lets you get ahead (“I get up before I go to sleep/Bills to pay and appointments to keep”)