Asian Man Records
Release Date: April 7, 2015
Formed back in 1995 during the height of the third wave of ska, San Fran band Monkey chose to go a different route and focus on two-tone ska. Monkey has released their latest new album, Bananarchy, with a sound that makes us feel like we never left the late 1970's and a youthful energy that makes those of us who were around when they formed feel like teenagers. For a ska-fan that’s exactly what you want.
Opening the album is "You're Becoming a Jerk", a dancy little opening number featuring humoresque lyrics and solid rock organ vibe. It is destined to be quite a crowd pleaser. Moving next into "Blind Faith", the brass sound traditionally associated with ska italicizes its presence and really begins to set the tone for the rest of the album.
Other songs include "The Epic" and it's toe tapping perfect mix of horns and rock organ, sure to be a fav for most listeners as the saxophone blares perfection, and is destined for a repeat button loop listen. The medium paced "Bicycle", which has seemed to be given the most spotlight too since the albums release, with its classic sound and catchy lyrics is a fun song that summons upon the powers that make-up some of the best parts of the genre. "Bad Neighbor", with its MU-330 feel, makes us laugh with the story of a guy dealing with his drug-dealing neighborhood, whom plays their music too loud in the apartment next door. "Caffeine" is an all instrumental, medium paced jam which helps keep the good vibes flowing. "Lazy Boy" isn't slow but certainly has the most relaxed vibe of the album showing some solid reggae roots. The album closes out with "Johnny", a heart felt send off for the track, lyrically dealing with the death (possible suicide) of Johnny, still proving a catchy song despite the subject matter, also including a great saxophone solo, book ending the record with a great send off.
Numerous ska bands formed at the same time as Monkey; like Less Than Jake, Reel Big Fish, Mad Caddies, etc; have all changed their sounds over the years. They have tried to evolve and chase success elsewhere at one point or another, sometimes getting a victory but frequently to the dismay of fans who loved their tunes because of the original specific ska colorization. Bananarchy by Monkey on the other hand stays proudly true to its roots with its pleasing, warm, ska sound proudly on display, retaining the key danceability of this breed of music. There was no need for Monkey to experiment, they just aimed to please their ska-loving core base and in that aspect exceeded expectations with a string of victories, dotting across this album’s ten tracks.
Reviewed by Drew 1340