Suburban Legends: A Tasteful Twist on Ska
I pity anyone who sees this title and is unaware of suburban legends, and even more so ska itself. The trademark of this genre is its brass section. It’s roots deep in to jazz, ska began in the late 80s and early 90s with a blend of punk rock and beautiful brass sections. Over the last couple decades it has evolved in to something more than punk rock with horns, it has become fantastic enlightening music with a blend of new alternative music, jazz music’s brass section, and just a pinch of pop to keep it the most upbeat music you will have ever heard. Since I can’t choose just one suburban legends song or album to review I will present to you what I believe to be their three best songs of their entire career.
Throughout the existence of suburban legends there have been quite a few ups and downs. The most mentionable and devastating to SL (suburban legends) is the tragic death of their trombonist Dallas Cook who was killed in a motorcycle accident. Bundled with a plethora of cast changes it is surprising that they can keep their music career going today, but they do it and do it very well. The cast right now for suburban legends is: Vince Walker, Brian Klemm, Brian Robertson, Derek Lee Rock, Mike Hachey, and Luis Beza. There was skepticism about Vince walker’s singing prowess but he has proved himself thus far and can carry out Suburban’s funkadelic style. My three favorite SL songs of all time are ‘Hey DJ’, ‘Trophy Wife’ and ‘Last Dance.’
‘Hey DJ’ was the first suburban legends song I can remember hearing, and I had the pleasure of hearing it live. This song isn’t on here because of the nostalgia I feel for it, or because there is no better SL song, it’s on here because it represents the entirety of Suburban Legend’s style. They take ska to a whole new level with their disco pop beats and lyrics. While horns take the main stage in normal ska, it is all about the collection of instruments and keeping everything even with SL, no one part outweighs another, except maybe the vocals. In this track in particular they take a good song to a whole new level with the lyrics you can’t help but dance and sing along to.
Suburban legends hasn’t always had this sound, though, their first tracks were much more true to original ska, with prominent horn parts and not a lot of style change. ‘Last Dance’ was off the album Rump Shaker, an early album, it is composed of much more regular ska. By regular I mean that it is more similar to other bands in their genre and it is without the extreme infusion of pop that their newer music has. ‘Last Dance’ starts off with a very mellow guitar, slowly building up and getting in to the heart of the song with the lyrics: ‘Oh how sweet it could be / if I could take you with me/ to the shore / to the shore,’ with that last ‘shore’ in a crescendo of voice and melodic horns in the background. The rest of the song carries out with of beat drums and guitar to give it the typical ska feeling, throw in a few passion filled horn solos and a couple rocking guitar solos and you have a very great song. Simply the best way to show the drastic changes in suburban legends style, listen to this song then listen to ‘Hey DJ’ or ‘Trophy Wife’ and you will see how versatile they are.
‘Trophy Wife’ is, hands down, my favorite Suburban Legends’ song. This song is an extremely funky mix of ska and pop and it works. Throughout the song their singer really shows off his voice, hitting all the high notes then sinking down in to a low interlude. A powerful bass line supports the entire song making the parts of the other instruments come together like magic. None of the sections have big parts; they just come together to make something beautiful. A keyboard flows into the beginning of a horn part, which ends in a guitar fill. Although this song is not life changing or deep it is still fun and has awesome music to back up a powerful voice. The chorus is the definition of catchy with it’s bellowing of: ‘Trophy wife show you what feels nice, I’ll take you on the ride of your life / trophy wife forget about your strife’s, I’m the only family you’ll ever need.
I think it is clear that Suburban Legends love to have fun when they write their songs, and I think that is the most important part, it makes every song something special that they can enjoy doing and play with all of their heart. If I had to listen to one band for the rest of my life suburban legends could very well be my choice with their wide range of styles and how fun it is to listen and dance to them. Suburban Legends is straight up fantastic.