Living in the shadow of New York City my whole life has been a blessing. Culture, art, energy, great music, legendary venues, amazing food, and better people watching than you can find almost anywhere else. This became especially true when my ears found ska music in the mid-90's. So much comes out of New York in every genre, and I think it's really made it's name in ska music very well known and well defined. However, it's bright light of awesomeness has blocked my view of what's going on in the Midwest in this glorious music scene...and I feel ashamed! BAD SKA GIRL, Amanda. BAD. There is this whole buzzing beautiful world of dancing just beyond our tri-state area, and every time I stumble into another great band, it's like Christmas for me. This happened again a few months ago.
For years, I never really knew that anything but Brenda and Brandon Walsh came out of Minnesota. (you can slap me for that comment) Boy, was I fucking wrong. But I didn't know there was a ska scene. I didn't know it was buzzing so loud. It finally reached my ears.
I heard the Prizefighters, and I was blown away. You can read my review of these amazing folks HERE. Thankfully, it seems the magic doesn't stop there. Not hardly! Someone dropped the album Get Up In It by the Dropsteppers in my lap a few months ago, and that was it. I am sold. I want to go to Minnesota. I need to go to Minnesota.
The band formed in 2010 according to their website, and are comprised of Albert Perez on guitar, Doug Otto on organ and vocals, Tom McDowall on vocals and guitar, Christopher Allen Gray on drums and vocals, Paul Perez on percussion and vocals, Eric Struve on bass. This is not a thrown together batch of lazy guys. This is a mashing of talent from start to finish, and they have expertly blended each individually perfect section of this band into an amazing sound that I personally cannot get enough of. A blending of the traditional flavors of reggae, rocksteady, and soul with a modern feel that sets them apart and brings them right to the front.
If you are a listener to my show and my podcast, you have heard the song Extraordinary Woman. You have probably heard it every week since I got my hands on it. I can't stop playing it. First of all, let me point out that the bass lines on this entire album are great...but on this song, it's nothing short of hot and helps to define this track. It's layered under the organ, percussion, and guitar in a very precise mix. The vocals are a huge part of what makes the song as catchy as it is as well. The lead is great, the backups and impossible not to sing along with. It's one of those songs that makes me wonder who it was written for...and wish it was me. It's soulful. It's catchy. It will move you.
My other favorite on the album is Hot Mess. This has become my happy song lately. It's fun! The vocals and lyrics are great on their own...Tom McDowall is a really great voice for this music. But the rest of the guys make this song addicting. Those hot bass lines are there, the organ, the guitar, the perfectly placed percussion. The backup vocals. And see if you can listen to it all the way through and not dance. I bet you can't. If you can, check your pulse. I think you might be dead. Who doesn't want someone singing that you make them a hot mess in your presence? In a good way! I love love LOVE this song.
Want a bit of a slower groove? Listen to Foolish Pride. Straight up rocksteady sound blended with those soulful vocals and steady bass line, and then peppered with every other delicious aspect of what makes this such a great album. It's music you don't just hear. It's music you feel right down to the deepest spots...those ones that make you start moving.
The Dropsteppers set themselves apart with their traditional flavor, but they blend it so well with a modern energy. It's really an impressive sound and it's consistently good throughout the album from start to finish. They keep it fresh from track to track without that overlapping boredom that tends to find itself into the work of other artists going for the same sound. No, these gentlemen mastered it on this record.
I don't know how much begging I need to do to get these guys out to New Jersey and New York, but you can bet your sweet ass I am going to find out. I have listened to this album so much, it's probably chiseled into the inside of my skull at this point, and I crave a live show. From what I hear, they do just as well live as they do in the studio. Otherwise, it looks like I am paying a visit to Minnesota this winter. Guess I better pick up those new snow boots...
If you are lucky enough to be out that way, you can check these guys out November 29th at Triple Rock Social Club with Deals Gone Bad and Stop Drop. You can get more information about that show HERE
The album Get Up In it by the Dropsteppers is available on Megalith Records and you can find it at CD Baby RIGHT HERE.
You can check out more about The Dropsteppers at their website HERE