New Music, Old Ska: From the Taliband to the Parka Kings

Ah, another week, another list of songs from the Only D. He got lazy this week (I could say he had a ‘weak week’, but that would be a lame pun) and sent me only a few. So, along the way I plan to school him on 90s ska.

Or something like that. Anyway, here’s to some new music in the house.

Band: Samsara Blues Experiment
Song: Center Of The Sun

The Only D Says: “These crazy Germans set up a little throwback blues band that sounds more at home in some early seventies outdoor concert/orgy. But they have some talent even though they step on that wah pedal like they are getting a fire set up for forging swords. You can practically see the painted panel vans with the Demons and Wizards album cover by Uriah Heap crudely drawn on the doors. A room with shag carpeting a some sort of haze present is a must when listening (the entire album is posted on Youtube, and clocking in at over an hour it’s perfect “meditation” music).”

I almost didn’t make it to the singing. I don’t know if my life is actually improved by making it to the singing. I am sure that these gentlemen are talented and I am also sure that one would need a time machine to pick up musicians from different eras to create this sound. That said, I am also not quite sure it would be worth it. Admittedly, the music would probably be improved by drugs. But, even then, I am not quite sure it would be worth it.

The vocalist is somewhere between Satan and the guy from Alice in Chains. Seriously, while I listened to the song, my children started screaming, scratching each other and crying blood. What the hell is it about germans? You mention the guitar, listen again to the drums. The drummer is in the zone. He keeps the whole mad composition together. I would go to a concert (and bleed from the ears)  just to see that guy. They must feed him halflings or something. (Or maybe his sticks are +2 against distraction.)

Band: Taliband

The Only D: “So you might wonder who exactly would name their band this? Floridians…and that is really the only acceptable answer. However I believe the name to be hilarious and excellent wordplay, and it’s about time I give you a band that can compete with Puscifer for the most offensive name possible. Looking beyond that the Taliband is a decent reggae band for a bunch of white guys) and they sound somewhat like The Coral. Plus, they give me the excuse to post this picture.”

I must admit that I was hostile to this band because of its name. True story: I lived in NYC during and after 9/11. Once on Ditmars Ave in Astoria I witnessed two middle-aged, South Asian bodega owners get in a fistfight while one of them screamed “I’m not a Taliban, you’re a Taliban!”. Nobly, I stepped aside, not quite sure what to make of the mess.

When I was growing up in Southern Maine, everyone loved The Rustic Overtones. This meant that I had to hate them. They were actually pretty good. I was (am?) a jealous jerk. These guys are better than the Taliband.

Aren’t these guys really more Ska than reggae? They seem like a poor Sublime imitator, or, better, a South Beach version of the ska-band from my homestate, The Rustic Overtones—a group that lacked the grit of their slightly southern friends, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, but had a better sense for melody (and, allegedly, a fan in the form of David Bowie).

If you grew up in the 1980s or 1990s and listened to ska you knew about this band. In New England, they were the gold standard for ska.

See, Ska was a trend for local bands in the 1990s. Every city and every region seemed to have at least a handful of ska bands with one reigning over them all. One of my good friends from grad school was in the Detroit Michigan edition of a great Ska Band, The Parka Kings, I group I never saw live, but whose music I learned from their lead singer, has more talent and fun in them than the Taliband. Here’s a low-fi youtube version of one of their songs:

So, how can you drop a reference to the Coral without talking about them more. Here’s the song you suggested I listen to:

I don’t really know how to describe this band. They have a slight ska-lilt to the guitars, yet the vocals are somewhere between late 70’s punk and early doo-wop. I love the backing vocals. I love the low-fi, twee-eqsue guitar solo. The chord transitions at time seem a little too kitschy, but as a whole, this is one of the most ‘different’ sounding songs I have heard in a while. I’d dare say infectious. But I’d also have to admit that I am fighting off the flu right now.

Since this band has existed since the mid 1990s, it isn’t really fair for me to call it new. But, dammit, it is new to me. Given that, I almost downloaded the band’s music right away. But, for caution’s sake, I listened to another track.  My method for choosing the song was rather unscientific. I typed “the coral” into Youtube’s search bar, picked the next most popular song after the last one and then selected the live version.

Again, I really like the instrumentation in the song. The vocals on this one are a little less awe-inspiring. I am past disbelief when I find a good band that’s been around for a while but which I haven’t heard of. I am not past having hurt feelings about it.

I do like reggae, as I have confessed before, but I am less enamored with ska. How does it strike you, my brother?


One comment on “New Music, Old Ska: From the Taliband to the Parka Kings

  1. theyoungerj says:

    I also like reggae but am not into ska whatsoever. I mean you can bop you heard to it but something about it really annoys me. I always think of the conversation we had about how you never see a bad reggae band do a slow song because it’s harder to play slow and stay on time. Ska is fast all the time….it actually kinda stresses me out, like dub step music.

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