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Out of Line

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Album Review

Brainchild of Bim Skala Bim frontman Dan Vitale, Steady Earnest was a bit of a Boston supergroup, including, as it did, members of the Prophets, Ska'd for Life, Dig This!, Skam, the Allstonians, Oddly Enough, and Maelstrom. Although Earnest themselves can confidently be classified as ska, not all the musicians came from that scene, but each shared the same goal, to create a fun, danceable sound that would appeal to a wide audience. Earnest opened their account with a six-song self-titled cassette in 1993, quickly followed by the full-length Out of Line the same year, reprising five tracks off the EP. The album certainly fulfills Earnest's aims; the set is stuffed with upbeat, dance-friendly numbers, in genre-splitting styles guaranteed to appeal to a wide range of musical tastes. The rhythms are unflaggingly ska-based and the brass equally so, a reflection of the members' love of both Jamaican music and American R&B and soul. Both latter styles are brought lovingly together on the band's cover of the rocksteady classic "Take It Easy," but in contrast, their other cover is a blistering take on the Elvis Presley standard "That's All Right." And it's this kind of diversity that really shakes up the set, as the band incorporates lashings of pop, rock, rockabilly, surf, jazzy undertones, big-band swing, and sprinkles of Spanish flavor into its ska-fired arrangements, then lathers Vitale's emotive, soulful vocals on top. So whether you prefer outright countrified skankers like "Off & Running" and "Time Will Tell," the surfside ska of "Utter East," "Singular I"'s slash of jazz, the title track's swing sound, "Hold 'Em Back"'s dubbier reggae, or the genre-defying "Mercy," Out of Line boasts stellar songs for every musical preference. A superb album that — even in the diverse world of the third wave — brings something new and special to the genre.


Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s

This nine-member band, formed from the best ska and punk bands in Boston, recorded an EP and...
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