Skratch3 - Crash and Burn
Release Date: 2006
Record Label: Unsigned
In a country that's ever-so-filled with rainy days, gloomy skies, and enough snow storms to last anyone a lifetime, Toronto, Ontario's Skratch3 manage to burst through Canada's chilly winter season with a vengeance. Crash and Burn, the debut full-length from the ska-rock/reggae band is a tropical mixtape of exciting melodies, perfectly arranged dual-vocal harmonies, and sing-alongs around every corner. After spending the greater part of this past year putting this debut release together, Skratch3 have finally given themselves an album, and moreso a masterpiece, to burst onto the fading ska scene. If any record holds the power to revive ska music, this just might be it.
The record opens with "Not So Fast", a very danceable, bouncy ska jam. Instantly, the bands knack for crafting an infectious hook is evident, as well as is the superb individual playing ability of each band member. Dual-vocalists Todd Mason (trombone) and Luke Kimmond (trumpet) blend together so perfectly that it almost makes it hard for a listener to differentiate one singer from the other. Additionally, the trumpet solo (courtesy of the aformentioned Luke Kimmond) found in the songs breakdown is phenomenal. Following the opener comes "I Know", and despite the less than inspiring track title, the song is no letdown. The bands horn section, which shockingly consists of only the two players, is placed at the forefront of the mix, allowing for the bands appealing horn lines to take center stage. One thing, however, that makes the bands horn section twice as interesting as the next is the undeniable seperation of the two instruments sounds. It's easy enough for any listener to determine the difference between what Kimmond and Mason are playing, thus creating a rather enjoyable listen. On another level, and by the second track alone, it's safe to say Skratch3 have nailed an almost perfect formula in developing a true third-wave ska record. There's enough power in the heavy portions to draw punk listeners to the record, yet there isn't quite enough to take away from the bands roots at all, or alienate the bands ska sound in the slightest.
The records third track, "Make It Real", is undoubtedly one of the most impressive tracks in place. From the blazing horns in the intro, to the danceable upbeats courtesy of guitarist Ben Payton, to the reggae-infused breakdown, the track is damn-near perfect. Mason and Kimmond once again show off their ability to combine eachothers soulful voices, and the result is beautiful. On "Mr. Jones", the five-piece put their own unique spin on the Counting Crows classic. The most captivating factor is quite easily the bands successful attempts in not only bringing the original gem to a slower, traditional, reggae-esque pace, but as well as speeding up the tempo to all new, fitting heights. Mason's spins on the vocals are incredible well-performed, making it hard to believe that the track is a cover to begin with. Once again, on "Feel The Same", the band shows that they are in no way binded to a particular tempo throughout the course of a few minutes. The tracks verses, which are performed on the slower upbeats, lead perfectly into the power-driven chorus, skyrocketing the tracks speed to a whole new level. Also, as if to secure the transformation, the bridge is more or less a sort of step ladder, with each level turning the pace up a notch.
As the record brings itself to a close, we're left with only the two final tracks, the first of which being "You're Sayin'". Lyrically, the track is straight-to-the-point, but meaningful enough that any listener can take the given words to heart. Musically, the song opens with an unnaturally hard section, though within thirty seconds is brought straight back to the bands rightful territory. Drummer Dic Dickerson and bassist Woody do a fantastic job of not only giving the song an uncomparable driving sensation, but give the track enough power to get any listeners feet moving. "See This For Yourself", the final track on the album, is a tropical combination of island sounds and soothing melodies. Kimmond adds alot to the songs flavour with the incorporation of a beautifully placed steel drum, in addition to his fantastic trumpet ability. Whether it be the humourous clip of a troubled relationships phone call in the bridge, the exquisite instrumentation, or the way the track fades into the sounds of waves pouring onto the beach, the track is stunning from beginning to end. As a whole, it not only brings the record to fantastic close, but leaves the listener begging for what the band has to offer next.
Overall, Skratch3's formula is consistent, the hooks are constant, and Crash and Burn is miles ahead of what anyone could've expected this bands debut to be. This Canadian five-piece have crafted a record that is not only enjoyable from start to finish, but they've included enough infectious harmonies to earn this beauty a spot in anyones record player for years to come. Although 2006 has only began, Crash and Burn has already solidified its place in this years top ten, if not claiming my number one spot. Whoever said is ska is dead might want to take another listen, as Skratch3 are well on their way to becoming the genres next big thing.