Various Artists

State of the Union, Vol. 2

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This is a compilation from Canada's Union label group offering 20 tracks from up and coming ska and punk bands. It's a mostly gritty comp, with even the more straightforward ska numbers containing a significant amount of rock and punk. Planet Smashers' "Blind" seems to take its cues not from Two-Tone but from the early reggae-fueled punk of the Clash. The Frenetics' bopping, Jam-esque "Rooftops" is another standout, as is a campy ska-punk cover of the Verve Pipe's syrupy "Freshman" by Grand Rapids, MI, stalwarts Mustard Plug. Penelope's "Pawn Shop" may or may not be in a foreign language; while this is unclear, it is nevertheless a rousing anthem. Bedouin Soundclash slows things down a bit with its earthy ska rhythms, while the New York Ska Jazz Ensemble ends things on a classy note with the brass-heavy "Low Blow."

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