For years, I've viewed third-wave ska with the sort of disdain that George W. Bush reserves for Greenpeace. I hate music that reminds me of clownish shenanigans. Loutish horn sections, goofy tunes and scrunched-featured mugging? I can live without 'em, thanks. Plus, third-wave ska is among the unsexiest music ever created.
So when Garden Grove/Huntington Beach ska-punk octet Not a Chance drummer Candy Capone contacted me about doing a Locals Only review of her band, I prepared for the worst. However, my eyebrows raised with hope when I saw the group's URL: www.myspace.com/skaisdead. I can respect a healthy, self-deprecating sense of humor. When Capone mentioned that Not a Chance's influences range from Crass to N.W.A to Amy Winehouse, I was persuaded to give their five songs a serious listen.
Turns out, Not a Chance's caustic music possesses mad life, even if ska is dead. "Keep Each Other" is incredibly rousing and uplifting, with guitar riffs like repeated shiv stabs to the ribs and Jason Chanceless' strainiac voice bubbling with bile. The massed "hey-heys" and the brash brass phrases help to elevate the song to instant-classic status. "Oppressive Force" has the unfortunate Punk 101 lyrics, "I don't need your bullshit/I don't need your lies/I don't need society to tell me how to live." Anti-police sentiments predictably follow like batons to skulls. Thankfully, the music's more gripping than the words. "Clara" pays tribute to the singer's mother with an amphetamine rush of heroic punk rah-rah-rock. "Wasted Life" slows things to a sprightly skank as it relates a cautionary tale about drug abuse. "Tell Me Rudeboy" informs us that "the government's a sham/the president's a joke." Duly noted.
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Attention Orange County/Long Beach musicians and bands! Mail your music, along with your vital contact info and a decent high-resolution photo (plus any impending performance dates) for possible review to: Locals Only,OC Weekly, 1666 N. Main St., Ste. 500, Santa Ana, CA 92701. Or just be lazy and e-mail your MySpace link to firstname.lastname@example.org.