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April 15, 2024

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Let's Go Bowling
Freeway Lanes (Asian Man Records)

By: Alex Steininger

Very traditional influenced, Let's Go Bowling's third-wave ska sound blends a lot of up tempo third wave ska with slower traditional grooves. And with a band this intense, there is no better way to experience them than with a live album. That's exactly why Mike Park and Asian Man Records have released FREEWAY LANES, the Let's Go Bowling live album. Eighteen tracks, clocking in at over seventy minutes, this album will have you dancing from start to finish.

Starting with "Hare Tonic," light percussion helps to begin the song and the album. Soon the organ jumps into the song, and following it is the rest of the band. The guitar runs all through the song, very hot and infectious, getting you off your ass and onto your feet. The horns sound a little weak, losing a lot of their space in the sound system to the organ, but they do still make a presence in the song, and help to give more depth to the background of the music. "Spy Market" is a very energetic number, complete with a burning upbeat, powerful horns, and a nice organ. You can tell the crowd got very sweaty during this number. Fast paced all the way through, you too will get sweaty during this song. The drums constantly throw out bouncy beats that will add more than a step or two onto your dance, while the bass pounds its way through the song. Pulling off one of their more commonly known songs with perfection, only two songs into this album and you're already hooked and craving more. Good thing for you there is plenty more to feed your need for LGB. "Oatmeal for X-Mas" slows the pace down a bit and serves up a traditional number that will get a nod of approval from many ska fans. Jazzy horns that are also very soulful, a light upbeat that is perfect to dance with, tremendously talented percussion that jumps from pounding beats to light beats that re-enforce rather than drive, and a thumping bass all the way through make this song a standout amongst standouts. Mix in some clips from standard Christmas songs courtesy of the horns, for humor purposes, and you have a very danceable song that will also make you smile. "Daddy's Girl" jumps back to the up tempo, third wave pace that forces you to get up and dance. Its fast upbeat twisting around your feet, the sound of the drums ringing in your ears, and the soothing vocals help to move you even faster. The lead vocals are very smooth and carry themselves nicely throughout the song, while the backing vocals add a bit of humor and harmony to the mix. They sound as if they might be going "ooh" as a joke, but the result is some nice harmony. And no Let's Go Bowling live album would be complete without their underground smash hit, "Rude 69." A classic treat played at all the live shows I've been to, this number always sends the crowd into a frenzy, as the sweat drips off the band and patrons alike. This album is no different, because they pull off the song in classic fashion, which I'm sure drove the crowd wild. Also playing their theme song, "L.G.B.," they pull off the song without a hitch, almost to the point where the song sounds like it could be a studio track. Its traditional groove filling the air, and the group vocals shouting out "Let's Go Bowling!", this number is as clean and tight as you can get live. Ending the CD with a slow number reminding me of the stereotypical circus song by the name of "Sock Monkey March," they close out their great compilation of live material taken from the past year and a half.

This is one of the best live albums I have ever heard, period! Stuffed with classic cuts and other live tracks, they give the fans something that will tide them over until their next studio album hits the market. Recently leaving Moon Ska, and without a record deal right now, this live album serves as a great reminder that Let's Go Bowling is alive and well! I'll give this album an A.

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