Review Summary: Southern California Street Music finds the Glow Skulls abandoning their campy aesthetic for a more aggressive and hostile sound. The band is at the top of their game and this release is an exceptionally powerful one.
Complimenting abrasive punk rock styling with a blaring horn section, the Voodoo Glow Skulls continue to push the envelope with their unconventional yet highly infectious sound while enjoying a rich 16-year history as a successful recording and touring outfit. Following a humble beginning in 1988, the band continues to pump out ska-fused punk numbers with a distinct Latin flare and have since been responsible for releasing seven solid studio cuts.
Southern California Street Music is the latest from the group. The record was written entirely by Glow Skulls guitarist Eddie who is also largely responsible for engineering and recording the new album over the course of one year. Southern California Street Music is incredibly raw and showcases a serious brand of talent that was no doubt attained through years of practice and dedication. The use of horn instrumentation on this album is somewhat downplayed when compared to the band’s earlier releases, but the Glow Skulls sound rings true with the inclusion of brutal guitar playing and largely up-tempo song arrangements. As usual, front man Frank Casillas does an outstanding job when delivering his unique and unforgettable brand of vocals. His timing and execution creates a true driving force that can be felt resonating throughout every track.
This release finds the Glow Skulls taking a break from their well-recognized fun and campy sound and instead, the use of added aggression and hostility becomes more apparent. It’s very likely that the current political landscape has largely influenced the writing on this record and the song “Morning Air Raid Sirens” is a testament to that notion. This particular track deals with global indiscretions and the fear of a third world war. Songs like “Fire In The Dancehall” and “Discombobulated” are among the more exceptional tracks found here, although the rest of the CD is nothing to sneeze at either.
Fans of the Glow Skulls may find this record a little hard to swallow since it’s evident that the band has benched their punchy humor. For everyone else, here’s an album with bite.