The Slackers - Peculiar (Hellcat Records)

Auteur: Aaron (collaboration spéciale) (27 février 2006)
En magasin le: 21 février 2006
Cote: 8/10

We live in an age where both politics and ska music are boring. Politicians won’t shut up about terror threats, free trade, or tax cuts, and ska bands have nothing better to sing about than teenage love affairs. However, THE SLACKERS could stand to change the face of the music genre, and make politics a force you’d shake your ass to.

These ska-reggae legends from New York City have been around for over ten years (quite a long lifetime compared to most of their colleagues in the ska world), and have just released their fifth full-length album on Hellcat records, entitled Peculiar. Somewhat of a mish-mash of previously released songs off rare EP’s (see International War Criminal and the split with PULLEY), and part live album, Peculiar is exactly what the name suggests for a ska record. Everything from the cover art (featuring singer Vic Ruggiero half-naked on a dog leash) to the musical stylings are eyebrow raising. What emerges is an album that might not live up to the high expectations of a SLACKERS fan, but is awesome none-the-less.

Peculiar kicks off with a smooth rocksteady number, 86 The Mayo, which sets the tone for the cd’s intricately composed lyrics. On the track, Ruggiero sings in his typical melancholy manor, The lawyers they come bleeding me with papa’s old harpoon. They hold it in a glove made with his battered woman’s womb. She says she wants my bones to decorate his tomb. The next track, Peculiar, launches into an upbeat ska number with carnivalesque drumming and crooning about lost loves and exiles.

Perhaps the most unique aspect of this album, and one of its strongest points, is the poignant and timely social commentary that comes forth, sometimes in an un-nuanced fashion on tracks like Propaganda, Crazy, and International War Criminal. Those already familiar with these songs will be pleasantly surprised to find the songs re-worked and re-arranged with more horns and more harmonies.

THE SLACKERS also venture into new musical territory on Peculiar with a couple straight up ‘60s soul numbers. Two tracks in particular, Set the Girl Free and What Went Wrong evoke ARETHA FRANKLIN and SAM COOKE at the same time, all with that distinct Slackness.

While Peculiar isn’t the strongest album that THE SLACKERS have released over their career (it’s pretty hard to follow up the brilliance of The Question, released in 1998), it’s a great album in and of itself. It’s also their first album with a slightly different line-up. Gone are guitarist T.J. Scanlon and Marc Lynn, the eccentric second vocalist who many would remember if they’ve ever seen THE SLACKERS play live. However, new to the band are drummer Ara Babajian (formerly of LEFTOVER CRACK fame), and guitarist Jay Nugent (STUBBORN ALLSTARS, SKINNERBOX). The new players bring an interesting element to the band, but what remains is the same Slacker sound that fans have always enjoyed.

From reggae covers of Bob Dylan songs (I Shall be Released), to mellow folk tunes (I’d Rather Die Happy), this album is as diverse as it is revolutionary. Peculiar brings politics back onto the dance floor in a serious way. Not to be missed.

Cette critique est exceptionnellement en anglais car nous avons eu l’opportunité de la confier à Aaron Lakoff qui, en plus d’être extrêmement calé dans le domaine, est également l’animateur de l’émission Roots Rock Rebel diffusée les mercredis entre dix heures et minuit sur les ondes de CKUT 90.3 FM.

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