Remember when bands like Less Than Jake and Reel Big Fish were ska bands before turning into ex-ska bands that wanted to make more money by making sugary alterna-pop rock songs that just happened to have a horn section? Remember how much you liked Less Than Jake and Reel Big Fish before you heard them on the radio? Don’t you wish you could hear some good, quality pop-ska by a passionate band out to put on a good show and put out a good album? Well, get out your wallets and check the tour dates to hear and see the best band to happen to ska since Hepcat.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say to me, “Jimbo, I really just want to skank around my apartment in my boxers with all the blinds open, making the bookshelves shake in the apartment below me.” Probably because I only say this to myself when it’s time to do the dishes. However, since everyone really wants to do that, whether they say it out loud or not, there’s no better opportunity than to do it along to Potshot’s new album, Dance to the Potshot Record.
Potshot hails from Japan, yet they sing in English. I always recommend that, when listening to a new album, you should listen at least twice before you read the lyrics. That way, you hear what you want to hear, and can only be disappointed by the actual lyrics after you’ve decided if you like the album. Potshot gives us all the opportunity, because their interpretation of the English language is certainly unique. Take, for example, the lines to track three, “In Time Now”: “Sometimes does your feet just stop / Don’t you get attacked by doubt and worry / Why is it / Do we spend everyday / Where are we from where do we go? / It is still in time now / Got to come to yourself.” Potshot lyrics are almost James Joyce prose bouncing between out-loud questions and interior monologue answers. Yet, since English is Potshot’s second language, there’s plenty of opportunity for your own interpretation.
Potshot is a six-piece band with a trombone-trumpet horn section. The music is upbeat and poppy, the way good ska should be. A ska band should always be able to make the saddest topic seem like something to celebrate, and Potshot hits that nail on the head every time. Take track two, “Seasons End,” about not looking back at the past, but looking forward and taking chances. Or try “Don’t Fail To Ride,” a song about risking it all instead of thinking it over and missing your chance. There’s even a love song in “In My Heart,” which begs “If you would only look and recognize / Please, please realize.”
If you’re still not convinced, go take Less Than Jake’s Pezcore off the shelf, dust it off, and listen to it again. Remember how good Ska used to be, and then read the following Potshot lyrics from cut five, “Party”: “What are you standing and waiting for/Just waiting won’t gain anything / Come on why don’t you join us here.”
Next time you have dishes to do, you’ll finally have an excuse not to.
Less Than Jake – Pezcore
Operation Ivy – Energy
Hepcat – Scientific