In 1997 ska music was becoming quite popular. Bands such as Reel Big Fish, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and Less Than Jake were all receiving a good amount of critical acclaim. Most of their songs sounded the same, quick paced, aggressive and very horn punched. Of course most 3rd wave ska songs had a certain sing a long quality and usually delivered an extremely addicting chorus giving the songs strong pump up qualities. However the downside would be that most of these anthems were extremely repetitive, bland, and even boring. Itís without a doubt that 3rd wave ska bands showed a lot of energy and borrowed elements from punk but not a lot of people were amused and the 3rd wave ska craze only lasted about one year.
Letís Go Bowling are a ska band however they show little to no similarities with the bands I just mentioned. Music to Bowl By
is a traditional 3rd wave ska album meaning there are heavy elements of jazz and swing incorporated into the music. The music ranges from upbeat, jumpy swing riffs to down-tempo and soothing brass arrangements. Although the album jumps from slow to quick paced tunes it flows smoothly, Letís Go Bowlings sound is extremely jazzy and they donít even resemble many ska bands.
Lead singer Darren Fletcher has a voice that matches the upbeat tempo of the album perfectly. His deep, cool ,and relaxed tone synchs up well with the quick paced guitar riffs. He appears on most of these tracks and adds an old-school, 60's night-club type of sound to the music. Backup singer David Molina has a Latin influenced voice giving the music a tinge of a tribal vibe. If you bring in a brigade of trumpets, saxophones, and trombones the music can get fairly hectic at times. However the one thing that Letís Go Bowling do extremely well is how they can deliver a quick, jazzy ska riff and then immediately slow things down creating a retro, 60's type atmosphere.
The 60's swing influences are very apparent on most of these songs. Pin Stripe Suit
has a nice groovy guitar riff that eventually turns into a nice groovy arrangement of saxophones and trumpets. Itís one of those songs that youíd hear playing in an old cafť. Rude 69
has the same sort of feel but there is a snappy saxophone solo that plays throughout most of the song. I think the song is so great because itís almost as if Miles Davis meets Reel Big Fish, the music meshes clean ska together with smooth jazz. Daddys Girl
is without a doubt the most upbeat and dance-able song off the album. Itís comprised of an extremely quick vocal delivery from Fletcher along with the classic guitar riff found on most of these songs. Once the brass section explodes the music gets very bouncy and lively.
While Music to Bowl By
isnít a very diverse record some tracks definitely separate themselves from one another. Esta Noche
is sung in Spanish completely adding a chilled out Latin feel to the music. I still have no clue what the lyrics mean but the music sure does make me want to kick back and relax. The albums sixth track Hare Tonic
sounds like it would be playing at a carnival. Jittery brass instruments play throughout most of the track creating a slightly eerie yet fun listen. Sick Fish
is just about the only song were the bass is even noticeable. It plays softly through the versus and although the song is fairly standard it has a sneaky and sleazy feel to it.
If there is a downside to the album itís the replay value and repetitiveness. Those of you who dislike ska for the lack of variety Music to Bowl By
wonít really change your opinions. After multiple listens you will be able to tell the differences in most of these songs but most of them contain a slew of brass instruments and that cool as hell guitar riff. I still believe that there are enough jazz and swing elements incorporated into the music making Music to Bowl By
a much smoother and laid-back listen.
Music to Bowl By
is an excellent ska album. Released in 1991 it brought back the traditional ska feel that got lost somewhere in the 1980's. Unlike other 3rd wave ska bands such as Reel Big Fish and Less Than Jake, Lets Go Bowling tried to revive the ska scene while sticking to their traditional roots. To be honest Lets Go Bowling sound like a combination of Desmond Dekker and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. They mix in the perfect amount of ska, jazz, and swing to create an upbeat, jumpy, and occasionally laid-back listen. This record is a must for any fans of ska and if youíre trying to get into the genre Music to Bowl By
is a great place to start.