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July 23, 2024

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Orange Country's Punk vs. Ska-ROUND I
27 punk and ska bands take it to the ring (SKRATCH/Vegas Records)

By: Alex Steininger

There is only one scene in the nation that has both a thriving punk scene and a ska scene that puts all others to shame. That would be Orange County. And here you have each side of the fence punching it to be crowned king. Who will win?

The CD starts off with the inspirational song behind the great Rocky Balboa. White Kaps soon bring their fast guitars and furious drums to the forefront on "Girl In The Pit." Then the vocals come on, and their not that appealing. Then some girls come and say, "she's in the pit..." and it brings a nice sensation to the song. After a few listens the vocals will settle with you, but at first listen they're very annoying. Stymie put a spin on "La Bamba." Sure, you've heard the song a million times, but never like this. Ignite's "Embrace" brings some heavy bass and powerful guitar action to your mind. The drums are so powerful, they make you want to air drum along with them. The vocals are clean, and a nice touch. This is punk music, pure and simple. The song is loaded with melody, and still keeps it's fast edge. The bass lines add huge depth to the song, and they rattle around in your brain. Sure, bass solos are a guilty pleasure for me, but all that aside these guys rock. Clean X brings new life to the old show Charles in Charge with their song, "Charles Taking Over the World." It starts out with familiar sounding guitars, and a nice bass line. Then the vocals come on, and you'll remember why the starting sounds so familiar to you. They add some familiarity to their song at the beginning, which adds a lot to the rest of the song. The remaining portion of the song is fast and the vocals go from clean signing to fast snarls. 22 Jacks and their contribution, "Swallow," is another memorable blow for the punk side. Well, it has a lot of bass and I fell in love with it for that sole purpose.

Now on to the ska side of things. After a brief intermission, Save Ferris comes on with their Operation Ivy cover of "Artificial Life." The female vocals add a sweet touch to the ska/pop/swing song. But, it's not as good as Operation Ivy's. My Superhero brings a very familiar cover of an old song you have probably heard a million times, "Groovy Kind Of Love," to the ring. Their blend of ska and pop make for a great time. It starts off with some beats that are sure to get you to get up and skank, and then the guitar player steps on the distortion pedal and adds a kick to the song. A nice combination sure to get you going. Suburban Rhythm packs a hell of a punch with "Incomplete." It starts out psychedelic like, and then that familiar ska guitar enters the picture and you start to see the punk side losing it's breath. Combining ska with a touch of rock S.R. throws a brutal right hook to the punks. Lone Raspberry puts the nails in the coffin with "Talk Show Host." A very talented female leads the team with her very soothing vocals. Their song is upbeat and will make you get up off your ass and skank. There's still three more bands to go on the ska side, and they've already won the battle.

Orange County has so much talent too offer, your almost walking around blind if you don't own this compilation. Even though the punk side gets repetitive at times, and stumbles around the ring it does produce a few good tracks. The ska side, on the other hand, dominates. Almost every ska band on the compilation have good boxing skills, if you know what I mean. There are a few here and there that get old really fast, but the good bands out way the bad bands. This compilation deserves a B+. It has some great stuff, but also has some lower stuff holding it down.

To order this CD send $10ppd. to:
SKRATCH/Vegas Records
PO Box 2175
Newport Beach, CA 92659

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