Get Comfortably Numb with The New Slackers Record

Posted on April 11th, 2008 by JJ Loy

The Slackers
Self Medication
2008 Indication Records

Self Medication isn’t just the title of the Slackers upcoming release, it’s a suggestion. Sample a heavy dose of your favorite remedy, and let your headphones do the rest. The Slackers have taken their recent affinity of Tropiclia and taken it one step further by adding strong US and Brazilian psychedelic elements to their already groovy ska and reggae.

The first truely stand-out track on the album is “Estranged”, with lyrics and vocals from Glen Pine. This foggy tune is as much reminiscent of Far East Reggae as it is The Fun Boy Three. Haunting is one way to put it, but haunted may be more appropriate. As with “Estranged”, the title track, “Self Medication,” reveals a side to Ruggiero’s keys that we haven’t heard before. Synthy and psychedelic, they push the skank rhythm to the dark and sinister sides of The Slackers’ psyches. But it’s the track, “Eviction” that finds the Slackers in theit most novel style of the record- this modern-day “In the Ghetto” recalls Blaxploitation soundtracks as well as classic Jamaican shanty songs.

“Stars” is arguably the most interesting track on the record. Ruggiero plays with vocal overdubs in this expansion of his solo style. However, this song reaches further than Vic’s one-man-band- until it’s dizzying climax fades into it’s lullaby denouement.

But the record isn’t experimental all over. In “Don’t You Want a Man,” Hillyard adds to his growing songbook of socially charged lyrics that sound like love songs. (Or is it a break-up tune that sounds like a protest song?) “Leave Me” and “Happy Song” are straight forward Ska with all the up-beat energy you’d expect, but in a classic Slackers move they have less-than-upbeat lyrical themes. “Happy Song,” in particular seems like a minor attempt, on Hillyard’s part, to simply cheer up.

Several songs on Self Medication explore the singing someone else’s song as a metaphor for standing up for the ideals of those you’ve allied yourself with. This idea of singing someone else’s “happy song” began in the song, “Close My Eyes,” and is now being echoed not only on “Happy Song” but on Sing Your Song”- and to a lesser degree, “Don’t Forget the Streets.” Take it or leave it, but I believe many of these tunes are an re-affirmation of commitment from the band. Nearly every member of the band contributed lyrics to The Slackers’ new album and I’ll keep listening for however long they decide to sing each other’s songs.

Look for it later this month.

Comments (0) Apr 11 2008

Dave Hillyard Hits Jackpot

Posted on April 2nd, 2008 by JJ Loy

The concept of the newest release from The Slackers’ sax man, Dave Hillyard is nothing short of genius. We’ve heard his talent for composition, not only with The Slackers but also on The Rocksteady 7′s first two records. Anyone who’s seen him live can attest to the mind blowing effect his solos can produce, and that was captured on Way out East, Hillyard and the Rocksteady 7′s 2007 live record.

Now we have a new way to experience Hillyard’s Bop via Jamaica-style of Saxophone. Dave Hillyard Plays the Hits of Jackpot finds our hero riding the riddims of 13 classic reggae tracks from the Jackpot catalog. Like the DJ’s of the old sound systems, Hillyard improvises and reinterprets the songs on the fly, but instead of toasting with his voice… well you get the idea.

The idea was conceived by Glen Adams (original Upsetter, original Hippy Boy, original Augustus Pablo and sometimes Slacker). All of the original tracks are either produced by Bunny Lee or Lloyd Charmers, with the current production credits going to Glen Adams and King Django.

The whole record has a very familiar feel to it, and the new recordings fit seamlessly into these classic tracks.

Check out some of the cuts at Dave’s MySpace
And grab a copy of the disc over at JumpUp! -I did.

Comments (0) Apr 02 2008

Slackers Interview on GrundFunk.net

Posted on March 31st, 2008 by JJ Loy

No, no.  Not another Slackers interview from Ska Blah Blah, but this two part show is so great that I have to direct your attention to it.  Don’t let the non-English website and show introduction fool you, the interview is conducted in English and is chock full of wonderfully selected Slackers and Specials music.  Thanks to Martin for hipping me to this.

Road Rush on GrundFunk.net’s Interview with Vic and Dave from The Slackers:

Part 1

Part 2

Comments (0) Mar 31 2008

Ska News To Me

Posted on December 13th, 2007 by JJ Loy

Here’s a quick rundown of a very busy week in the world of Ska:

After months without any new Slackers bootlegs, a new set hit the internet hit the internet like a cannonball. Recorded in Syracuse, NY on 11.15.07, the set has been dubbed Funk n’ Waffles, after the venue of the same name. I can attest to the live set’s quality, so feel safe clicking here for the .zip file, or here for the original post at Stubborn Records Forum.

Speaking of The Slackers, Dave Hillyard recently posted a very optomistic, State of the Scene-type blog post. What does he say? Ska is making a comeback. But you knew that. Link

This isn’t breaking news, but in light of Hillyard’s positive post, it serves proof of the scene’s recent strength. The popular series of Ska compilations, United Colors of Ska has just released their fourth installment, or 4.0. Much like my recent selections, the UCS folks have been using MySpace as the catalyst for finding new Ska music from around the world. Link

The Holidays are upon us (is Hanukkah really over, already?) and DC Ska is making it easy for you to find the perfect gifts for all the Ska Geeks on your list, with their handy Gift Guide. Link

Go Jimmy Go has gotten into the X-Mas mode, as well, giving us all the gift of a Holiday themed album, Holiday Hell Yeah. Link

Victor Rice is still bustin ass and maintaining his rep as the go to guy for all things Ska. Look for new recordings by Stingers ATX, Buford O’Sullivan, Chris Murray Combo, and Crazy Balhead (feat. Alex Desert, King Django, Steve Jackson, Bucket, and Vic Ruggiero) with Mr. Rice at the mixing board, next year. He’s also involved (to some degree) with a new Skatalites Live DVD.

It would seem that the rumors are sadly true, Lynette Knackstedt, founder and guitarist for Skankin’ Pickle died at the young age of 37. Here is the post where I found out. Here is Mike Parks personal blog post on the subject. And here is an odd turn of events effecting Lynette’s estate.

The other night, my roommate and all around cool guy, Jameson played about 6 Skankin Pickle songs for me and Dira at the 521A. We remarked at how long it had been since we played them. Jameson translated a few Korean lyrics for us. I commented at what a bad-ass guitarist the Pickle’s had. I would later learn that Lynette died sometime that evening. It was an eerie coincidence that my friends and I were missing Skankin Pickle while Knackstedt’s family was missing her.

Sources: DC Ska, Dancin Mood, Stubborn Forums, Asian Man Records, and Do the Dog Skazine

Comments (2) Dec 13 2007

03 – Dave Hillyard – Conversations on a Revivalist Movement

Posted on March 20th, 2007 by JJ Loy


In this Episode, you’ll hear my interview with Dave Hillyard, as well as some live music from his bands, The Slackers and The David Hillyard Rocksteady Seven. Hillyard talks about life on the road, as a touring musician, and life at home, as a husband and father. We discuss playing for non-ska audiences and the different reactions he’s gotten from Jazz-heads. He also talks about his trip to Jamaica, and the times he’s worked with some of Ska’s earliest legends.

Other Links of Interest:
-Hillyard’s MySpace page with Downloadable tracks for Free and for Fee.
-A Press Kit for RS7′s United Front.
-YouTube Results for Dave

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Comments (4) Mar 20 2007