New York City is a veritable cornucopia of music and culture. The music, the art, the people...it all radiates with an aura of gritty determination that won't wash off. It's unique energy permeates everything that bleeds from between it's concrete structures and dark clubs and bars. I am in love with New York City. I always will be. It's been a mecca of ska and punk music over the last bunch of decades, and my favorite place to escape New Jersey and run to for a recharge of my soul.
Bands in New York have an energy that is almost tangible, and nearly impossible to describe. It varies band to band, scene to scene...but it's constant. Every time I get into a new one, I can detect it almost immediately. It's what gets me dancing immediately...be it sitting at my desk, driving in my car, doing my dishes, putting my radio show and podcast together, everything where the music is filling my ears. Thank fucking goodness for New York City.
This is everything that fills my soul, my ears, my brain when I listen to The Pandemics.
It's an eight piece band of talented individual musicians creating high energy ska with flavors of jazz and punk. Vocals are raspy with dirty, gritty, delicious soul and a side of fun. Brass is perfectly layered and accented throughout the album. Bass lines are the groove threaded throughout. Their most recent album, Brain On Tap, is a great mix of styles that highlight seemingly every aspect of what puts this band together. There are highlights of percussion, brass, vocals, bass, guitar, and excellent meshings of each intricate puzzle piece. I dig it, and I dig it hard.
I find that I get OBSESSED with good music when I find it. Listening to it over and over and over again until its memorized and very much ingrained in ever corner of my mind. It's something I always do before I write about a band as well. I want to know it inside and out, piece by piece, before I will go slapping my opinions all over it. I have had this CD in my car, I have had it up on Spotify at work, and with every listen, I like it a little more. I also hear something I missed in the last listen.
The thing I like most about this album is that it's fun. I know that sounds simple and trite for someone who is supposed to be disecting an album and a band for a review with big words and precise pointers, but seriously...its just fucking FUN! From track to track, it's completely dancable... and yes that is a word. You can lay yourself on almost any song and start shaking your hips and bouncing your head. Rhumba De Los Muertos...I can't wait to hear that song live. It's fun, but it's sexy as hell too the way the bass and guitar lead into those sultry horns. It's got a groove that bounces around a bit, and the vocals are sung deep. Then it picks up to take you out. I love it!
Sleepy Sunday (New York City) is a slower groove, but probably my favorite song on the album to sing a long with. Whole lot of horns, a little keys in the background, great bass, great vocals. Skip back to Hey You! and put those dancing pants back on. What great energy. Scream along, rock out. It shows how versatile the Pandemics are as a band. No one trick pony...they can bridge difference styles and different flavors with precision. I was impressed.
The title track Brain On Tap is great too...brings you in with guitar and drops you right into the horns. See if you can get through this song without dancing. I can't. I have it on in my headphones right now, and my tush is all over the place. The vocals are great, the beat is infectious, and I would imagine this is something of a crowd favorite at live shows with how singable it is. I know I know...I'm a bad ska girl. I have not been able to catch the Pandemics live yet. It's on my calendar as we speak. They have a show coming up at Characters NYC on November 10th. You can get information about the show HERE. You should go. I am. You can buy me a cocktail.
I was able to hang out with trombone player and vocalist for the Pandemics, Chris Malone, at the New York date of the recent round of Skalapalooza shows. Chris is a great guy to hang at a show with and swap stories with. I lost him somewhere during Sammy Kay's set, and found him again while I was harassing Agent Jay. He helped me ring in my 34th birthday that night, and didn't call me old at all. He is alright in my book.
That night, he handed me the Brain on Tap cd, and I can honestly say it has not left my car since. It's in the cd player, getting me through North Jersey rush hour traffic and gas lines and making people look at me funny at stop lights because I am dancing and singing along where I sit. I can't wait to check these guys out live this weekend...
Find more information on The Pandemics on their website here.
The Pandemics on Facebook.