Voodoo Glow Skulls – Southern California Street Music
Victory Records (9/18/07)
Punk / Ska / Metal
After such an illustrious career, there’s a part of any fan that really wishes the Voodoo Glow Skulls would think about calling it a day. The band’s done a great job, over the years, of merging punk and ska with just the faintest hint of metal, but the scene the band helped create has all but dried up, and Southern California Street Music pretty much marks the third or fourth release of essentially the same album.
Sure, there’s a couple of really strong tracks on here. “Home is Where the Heart(ache) Is” is a solid little number, with some nice jamming riffs and great lyrics. The ska breakdown is enough to make you long for the summer of ’97 (or was it ’98?) again. There’s beauty in the simplicity. “Say Hello to My Little Friend” is a great note on which to go out (both with the album, and probably as a career). The abrasive little tune has an urgency to it lacking in most of the band’s material lately. But it’s the album’s strongest (and incidentally, the longest) track, “The Ballad of Froggy McNasty”, that steals the show. The song has this steady slow burn that builds through each verse, but peters out in perfect ska fashion for the chorus, giving way to some solid guitar soloing.
But for every “Froggy” and “Little Friend”, there’s repetitive, boring fare like “Fire in the Dancehall” or “Death Wish List” or “Dancing on Your Grave”. On the latter two, the band tries real hard, but just misses the mark.
In the end, the unimaginative far outweighs the creative, and it’s not so much the band’s fault as it is the genre it helped create. It’s very hard to keep going strong in a specific genreâ€”just ask Bad Religion or Napalm Death. It doesn’t help that there’s only so much leeway offered in a punk/ska blend. Southern California Street Music is more miss than hit, so it’ll be interesting to see if and how the band may choose to move forward down the road.