Is there a genre of music more reviled than ska-punk? I read once on the internet that ska music is “what plays in a 13-year-old kid’s head when he gets extra mozzarella sticks.” That’s not untrue. It doesn’t always take itself very seriously (though it could get very political at times, deriving from its roots in Jamaican ska and British punk). While there is a lot of terrible ska-punk I think that’s the same in almost any genre and no I’m not apologizing for what I listened to in high school because it’s STILL great. Tune in for a glimpse of what an awkward teenaged Odd Monster enjoyed (and still does) for the “It’s Not a Phase” teenage mixtape challenge.
- The Mighty Mighty Bosstones “Devil’s Night Out” [Devil’s Night Out] 1989
- Yeah, it’s true: the Bosstones used to not suck. They were a combination of Motorhead and the Specials and then they decided to actually make money and then Dickey Barrett was the announcer for Jimmy Kimmell and…sigh…
- New York Ska-Jazz Ensemble “Wicked” [Step Forward] 2008
- Slapstick “There’s A Metal Head In The Parking Lot” [Slapstick] 1997
- I lived in the Chicago suburbs in the early 90s and Slapstick was our Operation Ivy– the ska-punk band that everyone looked up to. They subsequently split and formed a bunch of more famous emo bands (a genre that I decidedly do not care for) like Alkaline Trio, Tuesday and the Lawrence Arms.
- Blue Meanies “Grandma Shampoo” [Kiss Your Ass Goodbye] 1995
- Operation Ivy “Sound System” [Operation Ivy (2007 Remaster)] 1989
- I mean, if there’s one band that everyone agrees on in this genre it’s gotta be OpIvy. A couple of members went on to form Rancid, another band that most people agree are pretty good.
- Isaac Green & The Skalars “High School” [Skoolin’ With The Skalars] 1996
- Something that I always appreciated about ska is that it always featured women and people of color, something that a lot of other niche genres can’t say.
- Mock Turtle Soup “Rodent Revolt” [SKA The Third Wave (Volume 2)] 1996
- Most ska bands never really made any money, and many just released a few songs on compilations or self-released cassettes. The comps were you always found new bands back in the days before the internet was useful for this kind of stuff.
- The Toasters “Don’t Blame Me” [Thrill Me Up] 1988
- This was produced by Joe Jackson (!). The Toasters formed at the very end of the second wave of ska, and by the time the third wave same around they were already veterans. They were the most polished and technically accomplished of the third wave of ska and were my favorite band for a time.
- Los Fabulosos Cadillacs “Matador” [Vasos Vacíos] 1993
- Ska was global! Los Fabulosos Cadillacs were from Argentina and still awesome. I had to cut Voodoo Glow Skulls for time but they were from Southern California and often sang in Spanish too.
- The Scofflaws “Nude Beach” [Ska In Hi-Fi] 1995
- I think one of my favorite things about ska is that it never took itself particularly seriously. Sometimes songs were just goofy for goofy’s sake, and that’s a lesson I’ve tried to remember.