Dance Hall Crashers


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Lockjaw is a wonderful reminder of the original spirit of ska-punk. Rather than celebrate the meathead/frat boy misogyny and overly simplistic anarchistic politics that have plagued a lot of "third-wave" ska and punk-pop, Dance Hall Crashers choose to throw a big ol' party. Like the Specials and the Go-Go's before them, DHC rock with a playful, all-inclusive exuberance that makes even the most serious songs sound like a whole lotta fun (which is pretty extraordinary considering lines like "I often think about the way I will watch you die/You will fall down on your own knife and I will just smile"). The musicianship is superlative throughout, which is not surprising considering some of the members' backgrounds in the legendary California punk band Operation Ivy. The dual lead vocals of Elyse Rogers and Karina Denike have a cool old-school girl group feel and also occasionally recall '80s British pop in the vein of Tracey Ullman and Kirsty MacColl. The album's only real flaw is that a lot of the songs sound alike. Nearly every track uses the same guitar sounds and the same vocal harmonies, and what sounds totally fresh on the first five tunes gets a little tiresome after 14. That said, the group does what it does expertly and the energy level is maintained throughout. Though it would have perhaps been more successful as an EP than as a full-length album, Lockjaw is a must-hear for any fan of No Doubt, Rancid or California ska, pop, and punk in general.

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