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July 22, 2024

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The Specs
Social Life (Antidote Records/P.O. Box 107/11142 Balboa Blvd./Granada Hills, CA 91344)

By: Alex Steininger

The Specs are an up tempo third wave ska band that also incorporates reggae into their sound. It all amounts to a lot of skankin' and a lot of fun.

The CD starts out with the title track, "Social Life." Up beat ska riffs that get you dancing from the get go line this song, while the keyboards spice things up a bit. The guitar is so over powering on this song that if your not dancing, your probably dead. "Before Our Eyes" starts out with a bunch of sampling, and drums playing in the background. Then the actual song starts. The guitar once again gets you stomping around the ground, and then the vocals enter. The drums smash around the song, while the bass pulls everything together. The keyboard adds a little space-like feeling at times. The chorus will draw you in, and make you dance harder than you were before. You'll be bouncing around, then the chorus will hit, then you'll be bouncing around ten times stronger than before. "Start It Right Now" starts off with a sample asking, "how up to date are you on the English language? Is it a) a Swedish duo or b) a popular Jamaican Music?" Then the song picks up. The vocals add soul to the song, while the music gives you the option to dance, dance, or dance. The guitar on this album is always up beat and medium paced, and it makes you dance. Look no further for ska that makes your feet move. It's all right here. "Time of Need" starts out with a little space-funk, and then the song slowly comes in. The song is a lot more mellow than the other songs, and a lot slower. The horns blare through and add a lot of emotion to the song. The bass continues to spit space-funk lines (a mix between funk bass and bass that reminds you of the sound they play in the back of space movies when a U.F.O is landing.) The keyboards add a touch of soul to the song. The vocals also have a soul full feeling to them. The guitar is more on the lines of traditional ska or reggae. It also throws in a few blues riffs here and there. Now you've learned these guys can play up beat third wave tempo's as well as slow it down and let the listener absorbs each word to it's fullest. "Hold On Tight" starts out with a sample about marijuana and a discussion on why it's illegal. Then the song enters in with a nice vibe. The keyboards throw the soul your way and get you swaying with the music, and then the vocals come in and everything turns to a reggae format. The vocals are very reggae oriented, and the music shows the influences from reggae these guys have experienced. The keyboards take the reggae feeling to the next level. "Opium Vibes Dub" takes the instrumental track twelve, "Opium Vibes," and adds a little dub to it. The song is still very relaxing, and the horns are still powerful. No matter which version your listening to, you'll enjoy it. The CD closes out with "CD Exit," a sample comes on with soft piano flavoring in the background. "I think that's all we'll have from the specs tonight, but who knows?" says one voice, while another voice says, "I really, really enjoyed it. And I loved it." The rest of the song is a nice, comfortable jazz piano that makes you feel very relaxed and stress free. There is also a scratching in the background.

The Specs aren't your average ska band. They can play a variety of ska, and they can play it well. Their sampling adds a lot of humor and fun to the disc, and the music itself will get you dancing from the opening beat of each song to the closing beat. These guys are great! I'll give the CD an A-.

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