Armagideon Time

Ruder than you

July 12th, 2011

I like ska and I’m not ashamed to say it…

…though I can’t see why anyone ought to be ashamed for digging danceable, treatment bluebeat pop in the first place.

That sentiment persists in certain self-consciously hip quarters, what is ed however, where the value of one’s soul is measured by one’s admiration for Thom Yorke’s soporific drone. Ska — especially the “third wave” variety — can be shallow, banal, and without any enduring substance, but the same can be said about pop music in general.

Given the choice of wearing some affected cred on my sleeve in order to impress another pretentious snot or grooving to three minutes of disposable effervescence, I’ll take the latter course of action every time.

Mock all you want, but let he who isn’t a twenty-something middle-class white kid prone to gushing about Wu Tang or Odd Future cast the first stone.

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11 Responses to “Ruder than you”

  1. Wolter

    I agree 100%. I know a whole generation of hipsters who write off the whole genre because of throwaway stuff by Reel Big Fish and their ilk.

  2. Professor Matthew

    Hey you, don’t watch that, watch this
    This is the heavy heavy monster sound
    The nutsiest sound around

  3. bitterandrew

    Even the throwaway stuff was kind of fun, especially in contrast to the increasingly boring turns taken by Britpop and U.S. “alternative” scenes at the time.

    I’ll take “Everything Sucks” over “Iris” and “D’You Know What I Mean” combined.

  4. Patrick

    The problem with ska is that it is an incredibly limited genre that has been done to death. The original movement lasted a few years in the sixties before morphing into rocksteady and reggae. The 80s two-tone revival produced a handful of great albums before the groups realized they couldn’t do anything more within the constraints of ska. They are still around, but still playing the same fifteen songs they were plaining in 1981.

    That said, the problem wasn’t bands like the Dancehall Crashers, the Toasters, or Filibuster who, if redundant, kept true to the original spirit of ska. The real issue were the third wave bands that came from ska from a background in bad rock and metal. They lost the soul of the genre, instead reducing it to a cartoon based around accenting the upbeat. I was a big fan of ska in the 80s and 90s, but lost my love of it upon seeing Skanking Pickle, who were basically bad rock. In the same way that most late 90s emo was basically bad rock.

    That said, if you don’t like 60s ska and the first specials and selector album, you have no soul, and any hipster who denies how awesome and fun ska can be is lame.

  5. bitterandrew


    I hear you, and it only got worse when the trend faded and they quit varnishing the garbage with horn sections.

    If you ever want to be amused and/or depressed, run a google search on any given lesser known third-wave ska outfit.

  6. Flex

    I have no problem admitting I’m a huge Ska fan, all waves. There were some pretty disposable Third Wave albums and bands, but I still listen to Save Ferris more than I listen to Radiohead (and I don’t even hate Radiohead).

    Some of the better Third Wave bands were just doing the next logical step of more explicitly combining punk and ska, which had been culturally fused together for some time. A lot of it wasn’t that great because, well, most music in any genre isn’t that great.

  7. Mike Loughlin

    The real stuff is probably the best but I had time for any band that sounded like Operation Ivy with horns, even if many of them weren’t very good. Many a weekend in college was spent at the Middle East, the Rat, and places in-between. Now, I hear ska most often on the shows my 6 year-old watches.

  8. esteban138

    I have a certain fuzzy fondness for a few Third Wave bands (which is largely based on not listening to them very often) and I can still listen to the first Specials album virtually anytime it comes on, but I tend to get my brass section nostalgia more from Rocket From the Crypt. But still, no one ever needs to apologize for Ska.

  9. Jeremy Henderson

    Yeah, that Third Wave…man. I like the older stuff, but it’s hard to defend a genre that includes Mighty Mighty Bosstones and No Doubt.

  10. Tim O'Neil

    I will be the brave soul to stand up for No Doubt and say that if they had all died in a plane crash in late 1995 after finishing Tragic Kingdom they’d still be well-remembered today. That album is still pretty good. It’s when they got fat and famous that they became solid embodiments of Anti-Life.

    I never cared much for ska but that’s not because I hate it, just because it never really appealed to me. But that’s an important distinction: it’s OK to say it’s not my bag, but taking the extra step to say that it sucks because I don’t like it is just close-mindedness. I’ll listen to the Specials if the come on the radio.

  11. bitterandrew

    I thought Tragic Kingdom was okay, although loaded with ominous portents of what the band would end up becoming.

    I wonder how long it will be before they tour with the Black Eyed Peas on the summer nostalgia tour circuit.

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