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Keep It Going - Mad Caddies

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Artist: Mad Caddies / Audio CD released 2007-04-30 at Fat Wreck

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      17.03.2009 19:35
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      A really enjoyable and eclectic album

      The Mad Caddies are a Californian ska band formed in 1995 and 'Keep It Going' is their 2007 studio album. It is their sixth album, the ffth in the studio as the previous album was a live recording. The band is officially a ska punk band but they take plenty of other influences from swing music, jazz, reggae, latin hardcore and rocksteady so they infuse a broad variety of styles into their music.

      I have just got this album and will be reviewing it whilst I give it the first listen. Despite being almost two years old, the album still tends to set you back between £12 and £15.
      The album consists of 14 tracks, and in this case an additional bonus track.

      === The Album ===

      [Track 1 - The Dirge]

      The track opens with a solitary whistling and this then punctuated by a subtle trumpet sound which leads into a resonating amplified feedback and then the drums kick in at a rowdy pace whilst the trumpets burst into a sort of dance-hall style. The vocalist sings in the expected California accent but adjusts his pace and pitch to fit the tune. The track is quite hectic, but it is the opener so it may not be setting the tone entirely.

      [7.5/10]

      [Track 2 - Backyard]

      This is much more of a reggae vibe. The brass is still playing but the guitar and drum beats are very rocksteady and flow quite slowly. The lyrics are delivered in an agreeably slow but bold style althoug they are a little simplistic. The tack is a much mellower offering than the first but it lacks the opener's bite, although it does gain a little extra character when the volume cranks towards the end.

      [6/10]

      [Track 3 - State Of Mind]

      The guitar plays pensively against a calm backdrop and the bass and drums jump in soon with another ska beat. The vocals are much better on this track and I already like it. The reggae influences are obvious in this track and it fuses well with the band's punk streak. The track overall is good and the fusion of styles works as well as it has done so far.

      {http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-tGWhRSXcs} A good track and this one has a music video}

      [8/10]

      [Track 4 - Today]

      The guitar begins acoustically and the lyrics allude to a 'What happened last night?' situation. The vocals are quite similar to a lot of the band's older songs. The direction switches quickly and the drums strike up at a quick pace and the guitar diverts itself through the amplifier giving the song a lot more punch although it does step all over the chilled vibe that was present at the start of the track. The brass is infrequent but dominant and the track is at least presentable.

      [5.5/10]

      [Track 5 - Without You]

      The beat is very, very ska. Quite reminiscent of 'The Specials' when they were having a good day. The lyrics are quite 70's reggae again, as is the vocal delivery. Like an american Desmond Dekker/Boney M lovechild. Not sure if thats right but its the best anallergy i can muster. the guitars are a lot softer and whilst the drums are pounding, they are controlled and contrasted well with the trumpets. there is also a very distinctive 'swing' style break towards the end before the track reverts back to a final bouncy chorus.

      [6.5/10]

      [Track 6 - Reflections]

      The brass section gives off a very Arabian Nights feel from the start and the vocals are initially downbeat although they soon pick up in energy and tone when the ska bassline comes in. The chorus is quite rousing and is a little punchier than the verses although the jovial, jumping ska beat does pale away a little during it.

      [6/10]

      [Track 7 - Lay Your Head Down]

      The guitars feign a hardcore style which almost immediately reverts back to the relaxed reggae style. the vocals are gruff this time and the drums are well placed and beat along well with the trumpets. The vocals actually work quite well and whilst the track isnt the most chilled on the album it has its mellow moments. Quite an unorthodox offering but a good one nonetheless.

      [7.5/10]

      [Track 8 - Tired Bones]

      The beat to the song is immediately fast and this is mainly due to the hyperactive drum beat and the pace of the brass accompaniement. The vocals are prickly and delivered in bursts almost for the early parts. The chorus is quite punky and is possibly the heaviest of the bunch so far. I suppose the track would be good in those energetic moments but its high tempo is a little stand out from the other tracks.

      [5.5/10]

      [Track 9 - Coyote]

      The song opens with an accordion of all things and then the bass drum kicks out the beginnings of the very rocksteady beat. the vocals are strained and delivered slowly. The bassline is quite subtle but adds a little jump to the tracks instrumental parts. At the chorus the drums threaten a change of pace which thankfully doesnt materialise, leaving this track to remain a sort of bizarre busker ska vibe. Some of the lyrivs drift into Spanish in brief periods. I think the track name 'Coyote' refers to the deadly woman who is the subject of the song. The guitars do up their speed a little at the end although it does the track no harm.

      [7/10]

      [Track 10 - Don't Go]

      A grand acoustic effect is on the guitars for this track. The vocals are emotive and powerfully sung and the track has a sing-a-long vibe with a lot of 'Whoa's to murmur along to. the beat is quite a sedate reggae vibe but the trumpets inject a little more feeling into the song. The lyrics are simply yet effective and I can see this track having a slightly wider appeal than some of the others.

      {http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2zlFmtAZt4} Just the track - no video but a good song nonetheless.

      [8/10]

      [Track 11 - Pyramid Scheme]

      A much different offering to the relaxed offering in the last one. hardcore vocals and electric guitars on this one. The brass is used quite sparingly and the drums instead punctuate the beat along with the bassline. Whilst the style is simple to appreciate, I don't think this song is the best.

      [5/10]

      [Track 12 - Souls For Sale]

      The guitar is friendly this time and the drums are upbeat and have that reggae flavour back. A lovely ska beat already. The vocals are well sung and they change to a nice racey pace at times which contrasts well over the calm beat. The lyrics concern a search for somebody's lost soul and the places that they look for it/them. This is definitely one that you can get that rocksteady skank going to. A good track.

      [7.5/10]

      [Track 13 - Riding For A Fall]

      Initially acoustic guitars but that could all change. The vocals seem thoughtful and collected. The pace is the slowest it has been so far. A sort of twisted love song if I'm reading the lyrics right. A sort of 'so long' and 'what goes around' angle. A very slow reggae vibe and a Jamaican MC interjects a couple of lines here and there. A very chilled track.

      [7/10]

      [Track 14 - Watcha Gonna Do]

      Another acoustic track. Obviously calming down the tone towards the end of the album. The song reminds me of a track called 'Good Intentions' off another album of theirs although it is a little more acoustic and a little less ska than the other track. A pleasant track with some nice vocal arrangements and a good choice for the final track.

      [7/10]

      [Track 15 - Bonus Track]

      This strats with about 2 minutes of pure silence which are punctuated by a kind of half oompah - half swing beat with some jazz trumpets although the vibe is quite mellow. I think tune is a much slower version of the trumpets from the first track. Quite an intriguing little offering but not much in the way of depth as well as the track being two thirds silence.

      [5/10]


      === Overall ===

      On the whole, this is a good album with the highlights being the more chilled ska tracks. If you want hardcore and heavy punk then this is probably not the one for you. There are band's who do it much better since they are more committed to the individual cause. If you like ska, reggae or anything similar then this might be a good choice of album. The tracks at times are really chilled and still maintain a bouncy livelyness. The best tracks are 'State Of Mind' and 'Don't Go' in my opinion and I have put youtube links under the individual track reviews for these two.

      In comparison to other albums, this is pretty good. Better than a lot of the competiton although probably not top of the tree. It compares very well to their other albums and still appears strong against them. The heavier elements of the album seem a little out of place at times as I believe the bands main strengths are from their more chilled out influences. If they stuck to their forte it would be a great album but it will have to settle for just being good. The punk elements aren't bad, just seem a little inappropriate considering the volume of sing/reggae/jazz/ksa influences on offer.

      If your a fan of this band already then I suggest giving this a try and if you like any of their numerous stylistic influences then it may also be worth a punt. A pleasing record which didn't let me down.


      also posted on www.ciao.co.uk

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    • Product Details

      Disc #1 Tracklisting
      1 Dirge
      2 Backyard
      3 State Of Mind
      4 Today
      5 Without You
      6 Reflections
      7 Lay Your Head Down
      8 Tired Bones
      9 Coyote
      10 Don't Go
      11 Pyramid Scheme
      12 Souls For Sale
      13 Riding For A Fall
      14 Whatcha Gonna Do