Category Archives: Ska

Left Alone – Left Alone – CD Review

Street punk shows it has a nicer side thanks to Left Alone, a Wilmington, CA act on their latest self-titled album Left Alone released through Hellcat Records.  On the band’s third release they continue to play street punk material but incorporate elements of pop punk, reggae, and ska making for a real fun listen.

Opening track “Spiked With Pain” was a full punk rock track with sing along abilities and guitar and bass riffs suggestive of Rancid.  There is a reason why this band was signed to Hellcat and perhaps Tim Armstrong enjoyed the similarities of Left Alone and the band he fronts.

“Branded” follows with the same energy as the first track with front man Elvis Cortez’s raspy voice just appealing to my ears.  As if that was not good enough, the bass lines were sick throughout and overall the song is just screaming to be released as a single.

Almost sounding like the Madness meets Operation Ivy was the brisk “Sad Story” with a more ska approach that is easily likable and surly makes you want to skank away.  The song was easily one of my favorites on the entire CD.  See below for the music video of the song.  Good stuff.

The catchy “3 Bottles Of Wine” and “Porcelain” both seem more pop punk tracks. They seem to escape the street punk image held by the band but still are enjoyable for what they are worth.

“Bombs Away” sounding a lot like The Clash’s “Police And Thieves” carries on just fine as the song is not a direct rip off but more so a compliment to the UK grandfathers of punk.  “Brindle” starts off with a strong bass line that strays right into a fast paced track sure to be a hit at one of their live shows as it makes you want to swing your arms and dance around carelessly.

I loved “Self Made” with the more so 90s punk feel and an organ playing in the background.  “Wishing Well” continued that feeling with a simple yet catchy punk track with some group vocals.  These are the kinds of songs that turned me into a punk rock fan in the first place.

It’s nice to see a band like Left Alone not label themselves as one specific genre of music and experiment with their talent.  This album is full of tracks with sing along qualities that span back to their previous releases but add a more fine tuned effort making for a good listen if you find yourself a fan of punk rock.

Left Alone is far from a commercial pop punk act and thanks to their recent release they should be grabbing some attention.  Perhaps it is a good thing they stay away from the mainstream though as they have too much talent to be considered just another pop-punk act out there.  Having already been fans of their previous releases Lonely Starts and Broken Hearts and Dead American Radio I can honestly say this CD is just as good of a listen if not better.

Download This! – Left Alone – “Sad Story”
Download This! – Left Alone – “3 Bottles Of Wine

(I would totally let the girls in this video kick my ass)

Westbound Train – Come And Get It – CD Review

Boston’s Westbound Train are back with an all new album following their impressive 2006 debut Transitions.  This time the seven man crew completely outdo themselves in every way possible with Come And Get It.  The album was once again released on Hellcat Records and proves to be one of my favorite releases to date this year hands down.

Think ska music infused with jazz, reggae, and heavy doses of R&B and you have the perfect blend of what Westbound Train specializes in.  Not to be compared with Motown, although close at times, the band remains a ska act throughout this release but keeps a soulful attitude.

I had the pleasure of reviewing the band’s last CD a while back and was impressed with every moment of it.  This time I am back to that same level of excitement with Come And Get It.  I must say that I am pretty sure that this CD will be my soundtrack for this summer hands down.

As soon as the CD started with “I Don’t Belong Here” lead singer Obi Fernandez’s voice seems to sooth the soul and set the mood.  With horns, a groovy rhythm, and even some background harmony the song immediately put me in the most relaxed of states as the song reminisces about the good times.  Almost reminding me of a Smokey Robinson song, “Ain’t Gonna Be Easy”, was a full forced R&B track sure to please any listener one way or another.

“Why You Cry” was an amazing ska soul track with ear catching singing thanks to King Django and also amazing tenor saxophone solos.  “Come And Get It” featured some sick organ playing throughout the song with even more impressive singing.

“What You Need”  was one of the more diverse tracks on the CD thanks to The Sweet Divines adding their classy soulful backup singing.  If that was not good enough they return on “So Many Things A Man Can Say”, one of the albums more Motown inspired songs.  If there is any track on this CD that proves this band has soul, this is the track.

“Critical Ska” was just that; a fine instrumental ska track from start to finish with an array of guitar, piano, and sax solos perfect for playing in the background of any outdoor party.  “Cheers! The World’s Almost Over” ended the CD but not without leaving a good feeling.

Westbound Train is a ska band that has some serious soul playing abilities and Come And Get It proves it.  I’m not saying this album is pure Motown but I am saying this comes very close and Westbound Train does it well.  Fans of The Slackers, The Pietasters, and just good soulful music will enjoy this CD over and over as did I.  Look for the band this summer at the 2009 Van’s Warped Tour.

In the event that you have not heard these guys it is only right for me to post some videos of material from their previous releases:

Westbound Train in Mainz (2007-04-30)