» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
The Debonaires
Long Shout
Jump Up! Records

Rating: 7/10 ?

January 18, 2006
Seriously, who's been paying attention to ska music over the last 10 years? I'll admit that besides the random encounter, I haven't, and I'm sure I'm not alone. But there are times when you can pick up a Madness or Blue Meanies album and relive the memories of a carefree musical culture that at one time seemed so vibrant. The Debonaires' thorough and exceptional 2005 release, Long Shout, brings past to present and shows that ska still has a pulse.

The album, the Los Angeles skanksters' third full-length effort and their first for the Chicago-based Jump Up label, harkens back to the days when ska was centered less around punk, which is today the most commercially-viable of the genre's main influences, and focused more on the grooves of rocksteady and reggae (more Madness, less Meanies; more '70-'80s, less '90-2000s). To add to the mix - and most importantly, not at a stretch - The Debonaires throw in elements of jazz-funk and soul with congas, dusty horn lines, and a powerful front man with an impressive range and energetic falsetto croons. Long Shout's 8th track is exemplary of swing-ska with a circle of instrument solos from trombone and sax, to nice jazzy sounding guitar chords. Two tracks later the Riverside 10-piece throws elements of dub into the mix, setting off their traditional brass with sustained, echoing drum sounds, adding a nice flourish to the standards of quintessential ska backbeat, spicing up the rhythm guitar and drum parts.

But in all their ingenuity The Debonaires do not sound overly ambitious, nor are they exceptionally special, an analysis that could unfortunately be stuck to just about any ska outfit in circulation today. The focus of Long Shout is the constant warmth of the rhythm section and, as excellent or diluted as this element can be, it is simply too unremarkable. Simply stated, a rhythm section is never going to put an album completely over the top or in the junk bin, and is ultimately an exercise in filler. To escape the sound of blandness, ska acts have to find a dash of spice with vocals/lyrics and intangibles such as percussion, horns, attitude, energy, or when all else fails, effects. The Debonaires have an above average proficiency in the spice department, but not to an overwhelming extent, and so it is that another ska record is doomed to go unnoticed by listeners who have become spoiled with layers upon layers of subtleties in this digital age.

Reviewed by Josh Zanger
Joshua Ian Zanger, a native of rural Chicago, rocks many a world with his writing, style, and generally sweet aroma.

See other reviews by Josh Zanger



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