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The Skeletones

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Album Review

This Riverside, CA, band skanks, rattles, and rolls out a scintillating set on this, its self-titled debut album. Not surprisingly after six years together, the Skeletones' sound is tight, the arrangements well conceived, and the musicianship awe-inspiring. The band already had a mighty live reputation on the SoCal scene, built on countless tours around the club circuit, and an eclectic musical mix that had been finely honed down through the years. The latter is notable, not least because unlike so many of the mix-and-match stylists then popping out of the woodwork, this septet had created an instantly identifiable sound all its own, which goes far beyond the more typical telling tones of the lead vocalist. The album's easygoing atmospheres are also telling, for even when the bandmembers are working hard, they leave a distinct impression that it's all entirely effortless on their part. They pull out all the stops on the instrumental showcase "Take the Ska Train" and make it sound like child's play; "Golden Touch" is equally exquisite — bubbly reggae without a note or beat out of place and soaring sax solos that capture the mid-'70s glow of the genre to perfection. "Golden Touch" incorporates just a tinge of British reggae and "Nutty Day" is a more open homage that beautifully skewers Madness and further twists the knife with cultural lyrics, while "Land of the Lost" tips a porkpie hat to the Specials. On upbeat numbers like "Caribbean Stomp," "Telephone," and "What Needs to Be Done," the Skeletones show off their third wave flash, and on "Boneshaker" their surf and metal cred. "She Just Wants Too" also slams into headbanger territory, but amazingly, without a single reference to the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. "Your Very Own Paradise" showcases their musical talent across a sensational surf-splashed jazz fest. And it's this febrile mix of rock, reggae, jazz, and ska sounds from the Caribbean, U.K., and good ol' U.S.A., all distilled into the Skeletones' own unique style, that makes this set a standout in a packed field. And the thoughtful lyrics running the thematic gamut, the inspired arrangements, and the flawless musicianship are the pillars upon which the band's genius is built.


Formed: 1995

Genre: World

Years Active: '90s

The Skeletones released their reggae-fied debut album Dr. Bones in 1996 on the...
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The Skeletones, The Skeletones
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