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Self Medication by The Slackers

Self Medication by The Slackers

Self Medication by The Slackers

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US ska veterans' 15th album showcases their human side

Sampler

The Slackers - Self Medication - 2008

After the musical deli that was the Boss Harmony Sessions, NYCs The Slackers are back with their second long player on Pama International’s Rockers Revolt label. This time, the words are a little more personal and there’s slightly less of a party vibe, but these 15 album veterans’ consistency and bona fide love of “Ska n B” sounds remain intact.

A big chunk of this record is fast Beverley’s style reggae; including opener ‘Every Day Is Sunday’ (an ode to the life of the layabout musician and his co-habiting girl) and the muted trumpet buddy song (with “twist and shout” build-up) ‘Don’t Forget The Streets’. The group’s natural eclecticism, however, cannot be restrained for long. Estranged (written and sung by trombonist Glen Pine) pays homage to The Specials’ ‘Ghost Town’; Beatle-ish ballad ‘Stars’ boasts a full blown, phased psych freakout denouement; the tightest groove has to be the brutal clav-skank of ‘Eviction’ (also penned by Pine) while ‘Don’t Have To’ lets customary singer Vic Ruggiero do an impression of Elvis on stage.

Confessional and wryly philosophical lyrics show The Slackers have a heart behind all their scotch soaked bravado. As well as tales of relationship toils, these tunes – the title track in particular – yield a series of defiant celebrations of the underdog, the underachiever and the malcontent, in an increasingly “rational capitalist” world that values conformity and professionalism above character and soul.

Musically Self Medication isn’t quite as clever as Boss Harmony Sessions with the genre mixing taking a back seat to song writing and street savvy verse. But this is another quality album of “Jamericana” from The Slackers, who, despite their name, have toiled tirelessly to disproportionate reward in a country where most people wouldn’t know real “ska” if it hit them in the face.

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