Ska! I'm reviewing some ska today. I love ska. I don't ever listen to enough of it. Please send me more ska! Today I'm reviewing a seven song release EP by skacore act Suburban Swamp Kids from Hollywood, Florida. Titled Tropical Depression, it was released at the beginning of December 2017. Enough intro. I'm excited to get started on this!
Tropical Depression opens with the song Lost Cause. The track starts slowly with some soft guitar and a bit of brass before the song starts properly and we're treated to a scratchy vocal similar to what you might hear from skacore legends Against All Authority. Lost Cause is about wanting to be with someone who has a different sexuality to yourself. So it's sort of a new version of the Reel Big Fish classic She Has A Girlfriend Now. The brass sections on the song really stood out on my first listen and soon had me skanking around my living room. Jit Drunk is one of the more interesting songs I've heard recently. It starts out showing off the more hardcore side of Suburban Swamp Kids sound, with some rough and raw vocals. The pace is breathtaking and things just get more and more ferocious with the inclusion of some really primal screams. Then things calm down, the brass comes in and things turn into a party! When you use the term 'a wild ride' I feel like it was invented for songs like this. The third song is named Let Down and again starts slowly with a long bass solo before BAM! the fast and in your face hardcore punk brings the song to life. Soon enough things calm down and the song morphs into a melodic punk track before the horns come in again and we're skanking round the living room again. Suburban Swamp Kids do such a fantastic job of including their influences but never making it feel like there are too many cooks in the kitchen.
If you're a fan of the Against All Authority, The Suicide Machines or even Destroy To Create era Flatliners you'll love the fourth song, Very Smart. For the first time on the EP, the band stick to one style and just excel. This is one of those great occasions where less is indeed more. The song is a political and socially aware one about searching for your own truths and not just believing what you are told. This is just a fantastic song from start to finish. It has me dancing throughout and when the chorus hits I just want to scream along until my throat is hoarse. Turn For Worse is a really angry political number, even the horns have a downtrodden sound to them. It's about being extremely frustrated (to say the least) with the state of country due to the people who are supposed to be in charge of looking after it - i.e. the government and the police. I think there's a hint of sombreness in the snarling vocals, as if he's in disbelief that this is still happening in 2017. Towards the end of the track it turns into a full on protest song with the band asking for people to stand up and help to make the important change. The penultimate song on Tropical Depression is titled Damaged Goods. This track is about dealing with addiction and not being able to help yourself because you think you are worthless. This is never the case. Once you get past the fast paced ferocity of the song it's actually really quite heartbreaking. Last up is Nude Dude, the song title that really stood out to me when I was checking out the track listing of the EP. Nude Dude is a really fun phrase to say. Go on, do it now, you'll enjoy it. This is an upbeat and positive song about being comfortable in your own skin. On this track Suburban Swamp Kids have somehow managed to combine 80s metal with ska to create a brilliantly uplifting sound that I would never have thought possible. This is such a good track to end the EP on.
I surprised myself by just how much I enjoyed Tropical Depression. I mean I do love ska and all of its different forms but I just didn't expect to fall in love with this as much as I did. Suburban Swamp Kids are a serious band who don't take themselves too seriously. The messages in the songs are important and need to be paid attention to but it's also so much fun. What an EP!
Stream and download Tropical Depression here: https://swampkids.bandcamp.com/album/tropical-depression-ep
Like Suburban Swamp Kids here: https://www.facebook.com/suburbanswampkids
This review was written by Colin Clark.