One More Bullet
[3.5/5] Boasting 25-plus years of existence is a staggering accomplishment for any band, but for one whose bread and butter is the volatile, perpetually up-and-down genre loosely defined as ska, surviving a quarter of a decade is a downright miracle. Although his cast of surrounding characters has shifted over the years, Toasters singer/guitarist and founder Rob “Bucket” Hingley, a British expatriate, has held steadfast to the heavily ’80s Two Tone-influenced ska sound pioneered in his native country, and it’s this aesthetic that characterizes the group’s newest release. Of particular note are the contributions of Nigerian singer/bassist Jason Nwagbaraocha, whose Jamaican-style vocal “chat” lends a vital air of authenticity to tracks such as “What A Gwan” and “Where’s The Freedom?” competently filling the role once reserved by the departed Coolie Ranx. And of course, no old-school ska platter would be complete without a few classic covers; this time, Hingley & Co. take on the Dave Clark Five (“Bits And Pieces”) and the Everly Brothers (“When Will I Be Loved”) before exiting speakers with the kind of cool that only Jake and Elwood, via the horn-a-riffic “Blues Bros. Outro,” can provide. One More Bullet is the real, pork pie hat-clad deal, proving once again that while so many things in life change, others can thankfully remain the same. (STOMP) Brendan Manley
The Toasters’ Dub 56
The Specials’ The Specials
The Scofflaws’ Ska In Hi-Fi
IN-STORE SESSION WITH SINGER/GUITARIST ROB “BUCKET” HINGLEY
The Toasters have been around for more than 25 years, making the band the longest-running ska outfit in North America. But ska is prone to some pretty severe ups and downs, in terms of popularity. It must take real tenacity to stick with it all this time.
I sometimes think that if ska music was a roller coaster ride at Coney Island, everyone would be scared to go on the thing. [Laughs.] But it’s really the downs that make the ups… People are starting to pay attention to the genre again, and some really great new bands are coming up, like the Aggrolites, Westbound Train and Big D And The Kids Table-they’re not new, but their new album [Strictly Rude] is 100 percent ska music.
And with ska’s cyclical nature, you’ve now got a whole new generation of fans.
That’s the phenomenon, isn’t it? One of the reasons is there’s 50 years of roots and culture there, and kids can see the history and see bands like Bob Marley and the Skatalites and the Specials, and all those bands who came out with this fantastic message, and this fantastic party music, which at the same time has a dark side-these socially conscious Two-Tone lyrics and the rebel music coming out of the Trenchtown ghetto. That magnetism is really what empowers the music to keep being trans-generational.
One More Bullet is the Toasters’ first studio album in five years. What have you been up to?
We’ve been playing about 250 shows a year for the past five years, all over the world. For me, it was more important in the long-term-not just for the band, but for the music-to really go and establish a global gigging mechanism, and after that to go back in and make a record. Because really, once having made a record, what are you going to do with it?
What did you discover during that run?
We’ve been expanding the envelope into Eastern Europe a lot more, and South America and places where people don’t ever go. We played a gig in Siberia last September. It’s turned into the Star Trek of ska. [Laughs.] But the reception is incredible. We played a gig in Bulgaria-we were late, because we messed up in Albania with our GPS-and got there at 2 a.m., but the club was still sold out. One guy said, “Thanks for coming. We’ve been waiting 10 years.” At this point, playing gigs around the world is far more important than sitting in the studio… Our problem is there’s only 365 days in a year. -Brendan Manley