A Conversation for Ska Music


Post 1


The Third Wave did not originate in California. It originated in New York City in the late 1980s by several bands resurrecting the styles of blue beat and rock steady as developed by Second Wave bands (what this entry's author refers to as "The British Revolution"). Bands such as The Toasters, The Scofflaws and Spring Heeled Jack predate the punk influenced California Third Wavers by years and years, long enough to be included on the "Style influence" lists of the Californian Ska Drummer Want Ads. These bands, and others from NYC's Moon Records, are REAL ska -- that is, ska that has not been ruined by the influence of punk or funk. I say ruined because the essence of all ska is the beat, which includes a heavy backbeat. Punk influenced "ska" readily discards the back beat during bridges or choruses in order to seem more "hardcore." True hardcore ska is not slamming plectrum guitar or nonsense horn blats, but is instead a well orchestrated, well ordered combination of improvisation and harmony. It's more like jazz than it is like reggae or funk; in fact, "Ska Jazz" ensembles in NYC, Tokyo, Boston, Maryland and Chicago are creating some of the most exciting music the genre has ever heard. Besides this, there is the matter of the bastardation of the ska persona: the listener of Goldfinger, No Doubt or any other Californian imposter has as much in common with the new york rudeboy as a deadhead has to an opera goer. It has been my experience that a Reel Big Fish concert, while pleasant and wonderfully energetic, is just an excuse for spike heads and frat brats to come out and break stuff. At the shows I've been to, I've often been the only one wearing a nice shirt, forgetting even the customary tie and pinstriped double-breaster I usually have to leave in the car to avoid ridicule and hefty tailoring bills.

I don't want to leave the reader with the feeling that there is a direct "East coast, west coast" argument in the world of Ska. Really, there is a bit of overlapping as members of both often meet for special events or for ensembles. It's really a more definitional difference. Many of those who call themselves "Ska fans" know nothing of the true artform and are instead fans of funky punk with a back beat. At the same time, the arena of punk fans who "despise ska" is blurring; hell, The Offspring are a perfect example of poppy or "frat punk" and they have recorded 3 songs with a ska backbeat. Just be wary of what you're calling ska if it's out of California, especially Orange County, even Propagandi's "Ska Sucks" has more of a ska backbeat that anything Goldfinger has put out. At the same time, Save Ferris has made a considerable contribution to the "Third & a half Wave" and should by no means be ignored because of their placement.

For those interested in finding out more about what comprises the best (and the earliest) of Third Wave Ska, I suggest heading over to moonska.com and picking up Oolooloo by The Pietasters, Ska in HiFi by The Scofflaws (a second wave/two tone/blue beat/ rock steady tribute) and pretty much anything by The Toasters. Other great third wave albums include God Bless Satan by Mephiskapheles, anything by the New York Ska Jazz Ensemble and anything off the volumes of great compilations put out by Moon Ska every year. A good place to start is with "Skarmageddon," though "Son of Skamageddon" is lacking.


Post 2

From Distant Shores

I'd like to work some of your post into The Forth Bridge Edition of the entry if you don't mind. The Colonel and I knew the entry was weak when it came to the start of the so called "third wave". Would you mind ?


From Distant Shores


Post 3

Blatherskite the Mugwump - Bandwidth Bandit

I don't think it's necessary to belittle any one variant in favor of another, though. I don't see that there is any reason to dismiss any one band or one sound just because it isn't true to the "roots." If it sounds good, what difference does it make?

Save Ferris is one of my absolute favorite bands, and they are an awesome show live, but I must tel you that they are not above discarding the backbeat when it suits them. Just so you know.

It's all peachy...

Post 4


Personally, I'm a music freak. Concerning ska, I listen to everything from Desmond Dekkar to Voo Doo Glow Skulls...from Dave Hillyard and the Rockstead 7 to Goldfinger. So, I know a bit about all the different "waves" of ska.

I also play the saxophone in a band...JerkWaterJive. We're not quite "old skool" ska, and not exactly "hardcore" punk, and quite unlike the "velvety" funk. We like to use styles as we see fit when we write songs. I feel when you are pinned down by "roots" and such, it leaves you with no room to grow. Why be held down by a single style? We play such diverse music, that we don't even know WHAT to call it but "energetic ska-punk-emo-oi-irishcore...with horns". Whatever we call it, people still enjoy it and dance and sing and drink at our shows.

As MTV, radio, and other popular forms of music promotion has shown, you can see alot of genre-bending groups emerging. Take Limp Bizkit, for a probably horrible example...but it'll do. They took the hardcore metal sound from bands like Metallica and Korn, but added the flowing rap lyrics to it to create the rap-core genre. Many other genres have busted out of their walls to leak into other genres keeping the proverbial creative juices flowing.

Now, to completely shatter the boundaries of the topic...there is a new revolution in music. With the creation and accessability of the internet, bands are sprouting up by the millions. The ability to reach fans across the world instantly over this new medium, as well as the controversial Napster, the infamous "alleged-music-thieving" program, has got the music industry teetering on the edge of demise. However, for lesser musicians and fans alike, this is a wonderful thing! No longer will there be a need for a "middleman" record label. However, this also creates a market-flooding effect, where thousands of bands who sound alike drown below the 5 or 10 that get noticed first.

So, to sum up...music today is very similar to an out-of-control vacuum...unpredictable, mostly exciting, and a large percentage of it sucks.

It's all peachy...

Post 5

From Distant Shores


You certainly see things from a different perception. I would agree with your assertion that if a musician feels restricted by an adopted style they have no room to grow. I suspect that is a problem with any conciously adopted style, musical or otherwise.

I would also agree with you assertion that a large percentage of music heard via the internet "sucks". Thankfully, there is wonderful music being played all over the world. Happily, from my point of view, much of it being made far, far away from the internet.

From Distant Shores

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