Cactus Juice (Moon Ska Records)
By: Alex Steininger
With Southern California known for their pop-ska acts, they also house some traditional ska. One of those traditional ska bands just happens to be Mobtown. Mixing instrumentals with vocal delights (beautiful female vocals!), they capture the listener in dance numbers that will make you smile and make you...DANCE!
"Jump Up" starts off with some nice percussion work, and from there they take it a step further. The bass and guitar quickly come in, followed by the horns, and the full arrangement begins. Led by female vocals, the song quickly will melt you. The music is nice, but the vocals are what make the song what it is. As each word is softly sang, touching your heart and setting everything at ease, you can't help but feel relaxed. Then there is the music...the rhythm section is good, the guitar is steady and keeps you dancing, while the horns help make the words flow nicely into your heart. "Eazy Rider" is a decent track, when the music is actually in full force. To get into the actual song, you have to wait through a minute and half as they lead you up to the song. Very light and dreamy, the intro is dreamy in fact, that it might actually put you to sleep. But when the actual song cuts in, things start to look up. The horns are tight, the percussion is right on, and the rhythm section does quite a good job. Let's not forget the guitar, it does a nice job too. But for the four minutes of track that is laid down, you get about one minute of good instrumental music. The rest is a bunch of waste, and who knows what the male vocals were doing when the song broke away half way through the song so the vocals could come in and talk about the "Eazy Rider" himself. A big waste of four minutes. But they do regain your respect on "Pets Go To Heaven." One of the more bouncy tracks on this CD, it helps show how their traditional sound is also bridged with modern, third wave ska sounds that are also floating around. The vocals are just as beautiful as before, and mixed with the music you'll come down with 'dance fever,' and it won't stop. "Silent Happiness" is just that...a nice traditional number that is silent in words, but the music is not. It is soft and relaxing, causing a moment of happiness while you listen to the song. Smooth, very silky, this number will bring out the most hidden feelings of love in you and just send them swirling around in your head. Even as I sit here and listen to the number, I can't help but feel thoughts of love rushing around in my head. Definitely jazz influenced, as well as the obvious traditional ska influences, this is one of the most powerful songs you'll ever hear that relies more on soft notes than hard ones. You could scream and pound out your emotions, sure, but this is the sexy way to 'say' how you feel. "Sweet Paradise" reminds me of just that. A song about love, you can't help but want to take that someone special over to a tropical place, and listen to this song as you make love. Mobtown is definitely a band that sings and writers romantic tales...a lover's band you might say. "El Mundo Canta" finds the band in their traditional essence, while giving the song a blast of energy and turning it into a high-octane trad number, once again about love and relationships. Easily danceable and beautiful vocals once again help create the mood, so easy you can't possibly miss it. Ending with "Cactus Juice," they close everything out with another groovin' instrumental.
Mobtown definitely has the soul and spirit of their musical upbringings. As was common with original ska bands, like the Skatalites, Mobtown writes love songs that can easily affect and conquer the listener. With one listen to this disc you'll feel the love burning in your heart. With only a few weak moments on this disc, it definitely stands out as a good one. I'll give it an A-.
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