Record of Convictions (Moon Ska Records)
By: Alex Steininger
One of New York's finest (ska bands), The Scofflaws just keep putting out albums that make you want to dance, have fun, and drink. Amazingly, after all this time, they still possess mass amounts of energy -- which becomes very apparent right from the get go.
Starting off with a traditional-soaked instrumental, "Show Band Anthem," The Scofflaws add their own zest to the sounds of old, and re-create it for the present. Snappy keyboards, thick horns, hammering percussion and bass, and a driving upbeat make this number nice preparation for the upcoming sixteen tracks.
Quickly converting into their topic of interest, "I Can't Decide" deals with a pressing matter -- not being able to decide which beer to drink. The lyrics will either have you wanting a drink or singing along (sometimes both). The music is the real draw, however. A very up-tempo guitar helps slip the upbeat underneath your feet, forcing you to dance. Sweating and working out while enjoying the song, the lyrics will have even more impact on you. Then there is the horns and the rhythm section, both of which shine. The drums keep a constant rhythm ringing in your head, while the bass slips in some chunky notes that will have you moving in agreement. Flushing through the song with an immense glow, the horns make their presence known. Never overbearing, the force the horns bring to the picture helps gloss up (and spice up) the song.
Dropping a bit of the hyperactive energy that always pays a visit to most of their songs, "Any Way The Wind Blows" shows the band fusing soul and traditional ska in a very warming manner. Delicate and soulful, the soft-heart behind the song is all style. Contradicting the soft, warming nature of the song is the lyrics. A message to a past lover that the romance is over, the main character in the story makes it his goal to point out to his ex-lover that he found a new female. Gently sway to this song as it's soothing effect works you over.
"The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly" once again shows the band kicking out the jams on this instrumental track. Except for the occasional moans and grunts, which get very annoying, the rest of the song is a blissful track that works and works to keep you dancing.
Another instrumental, "On Hold With Quackie" shines above "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly" for the sole fact the grunts are not present. Of course, the frantic dance movements and heart-pounding reactions you'll receive from this number are amplified as well. Another one of their classic 'hyperactive traditional-ska meets 90's rush hour' songs, don't expect to sit back when this one is blaring. You just won't be able too.
These guys have earned their throne on top of the ska pile (with a few others earning chairs next to them). Their ska beats are nothing short of breath-taking. Re-inventing themselves album after album, much like wine, they just keep getting better and better with age. It's no wonder why they've maintained themselves as one of the pioneers in their field. Still able to blaze new trails, while kicking up dust at the old ones, this album is a knockout. I'll give it an A.