Last year it was announced that Capdown would be the latest British ska-punk to come to a premature end. Their ten year career saw them play well over a thousand gigs including legendary sets at the annual Reading Festival as well as supporting American ska bands such as Less Than Jake. They released their debut, ‘Civil Disobedients’, in 2000 - a busy year for the band, as they played over 250 gigs. They have since played many more gigs and released two more albums, ‘Pound for the Sound’ in 2001 and ‘Wind Up Toys’ in 2007. Sadly for their fans, and the British punk scene in general, it was announced that Wind Up toys would be their last album, and that the band would never again play under the name of Capdown.
Since the album’s release in 2000 the band have become well known for their exciting live performances and their mix of ska, punk and hardcore. Lyrically, they focus on politics and the name Capdown itself is short for Capitalist Downfall. Many music fans in England will remember them positively; though it is unfortunate that in most cases they will be remembered and loved for one song – ‘Ska Wars’
. In short, it is ska-punk perfection. It is one of the most lively songs on the album, with creative saxophone parts; excellent lyrics; it is brilliantly structured and has a ridiculously addictive chanting part before each verse. While no other song on the album matches up to it quality wise, the standard throughout the album is very high and there are several highlights. One such highlight is the laid-back closer ‘Bitches and Nike Shoes’
with its almost rapped verses, chant-along chorus and excellent guitar riff running throughout. Musicianship is fairly simple, yet it is clearly very well thought out, as are the lyrics and this is the case with most songs on the album.
Despite being released nearly eight years ago, many of the songs on the album remained live staples and became fan favourites because of how fun the songs are, and their quality. ‘Cousin Cleotis’
is just one of these live staples. It is almost ‘cartoon-like’ in its nature due to the accent adopted frequently by frontman Jake as well as Keith’s chants of “here we go”. It is one of the most fun songs on the album – but is still musically accomplished with a long lasting saxophone riff that sounds amazing as well as being technical. Singing and chanting in weird accents are commonplace throughout the album and often match the feel of the song well, and show that Jake is a versatile singer. A low, rough sounding voice is put on during the pro-cannabis anthem ‘Kained But Able’
and adds to the chaotic nature of one of the most hardcore-punk songs on the album.
The song most resembling hardcore-punk on ‘Civil Disobedients’ is the opener – ‘Unite To Progress’
. While it is a very exciting opener due to its fast pace, you can’t help but feel that it is too fast for it’s own good as the lyrics become unintelligible and the potential quality of the song is limited. Sharing the openers need for speed is the first half of ‘Jr. NBC’
. Just when you think that the whole song is going to be a 200bpm thrash-punk riot the band slow down for the chorus and by changing the time several times it keeps the listener guessing, and keeps things interesting. Halfway through the song, things change even more dramatically as the saxophone comes in with a distant, relaxing, jazzy riff. The saxophone is put to very good use throughout the album with some excellent riffs, notably on ‘Ska Wars’ and adds to the music. Without it Capdown would be dangerously close to being a boring generic punk band. A brilliant triplet-time sax-riff is used in ‘The Neverlution’
. The song being in triplets makes it stand out immediately from other tracks on the album and gives it a (violent) swing feel.
Many UK punk bands cite Capdown as an influence, and if they don’t then they should at least be grateful to them. They have provided fans with many memorable moments during their ten-year career and become one of Britain’s most loved bands among the punk community. Their debut is viewed by fans of the band as their strongest, and they are certainly not wrong, imperfect though it is. However, ‘Civil Disobedients’ is an excellent debut from the band with some simply outstanding songs, but unfortunately the quality is dragged down by one or two forgettable songs. Nevertheless, ‘Civil Disobedients’ is still worthy of the adoration it receives from fans of the band and it shows that although the ska wars may be over, the first battle was won long ago. It was won comprehensively too.