Catch-It Kebabs - Return of the Kebabulance
Release Date: October 16th, 2006
Record Label: Riot Music
It takes a considerable amount of effort, determination, and perseverance for a contemporary act to establish themselves, but more often than not, musicians and performers alike overlook a substantial ingredient in the recipe for success; a collection of compositions worthy of critical acclaim. While a handful of these specific, undeserving success stories can be rightfully credited to corporate media's mass-marketing, audience persuasion, or an intricate business approach, it is no less of a challenge to turn a blind eye towards such craftsmen. Yet, with all periodic instances aside, the world of music has given birth to just as many creative "geniuses", whose work is not only honourable, but breathtaking, as well. With their sophomore release, Return of the Kebaulance, South Yorkshire's Catch-It Kebabs, a self-proclaimed "swingcore, ska-punk" outfit, aggrandize their original formula, which draws influences from the likes of everything from the Mad Caddies, to the Cherry Poppin' Daddies, to the Voodoo Glow Skulls, all the while expounding an output no listener could have dreamed an independent act capable of producing.
With their initial effort, 2004's Skankin' Sausages, the group traced a binding creative outline for themselves, and while the material was essentially enjoyable, it appeared the band were too cautious with their efforts, as little musical exploration was present. Yet, while Return of the Kebabulance does sound highly reminiscent, and at times appears overly symmetrical, of the group's debut, it's instantaneously visible that the nine-piece act have tightened their lose ends and let their imaginations run rampant, as the release certainly flaunts the Catch-It Kebabs' most captivating, memorable work to date.
On "5 Years", a vicious, ska-punk anthem, the Catch-It Kebabs advertise their impeccable knack for fusing antithetic genres together, as the group nonchalantly combines a casual reggae tone with barbarous, punk-rock flavour. The band's lead vocalist, Dirty Dave, is raw, gritty, and rather inelegant, yet his vocals boast with confidence and sheer enthusiasm, which are each indubitably reputable qualities. On "Party Politics", the releases' second offering, a pleasant, enchanting guitar structure leads listeners into a high-spirited, flippant ska composition, on which the band's four-piece horn ensemble performs alluringly. To be quite honest, one of the group's most bewitching qualities is the pure, nearly unrivaled ability the brass instrumentalists undoubtedly possess, as nearly each track on Return of the Kebabulance offers a well-constructed, mouthwatering arrangement. On "Bluelight", the audience is launched into a fast, jittery, raucous ska ditty, where one's first impression is not only heightened, but overseers are able to acquire a closer look as the act's approach to songwriting. The group's transitions from one sequence to another are flawless, making it an exceedingly difficult endeavour to differentiate one offering from another, though the band carefully nullify any possibility of any critic laying down the repetition card.
As the second half of the release introduces itself, we find "Subculture Contamination", a melodious ska number. The band's guitarist, Ross Hooley, performs exceptionally, and while his talent has been consistently evident throughout the record's running time, here we are certain of his ample ability. On "00 Nothing" and "Rudi Got Swing", the Catch-It Kebabs lace two ska contributions with an early, sassy, lead-footed swing influence, and while the numbers are a tad bit repetitious if played one after another, fortunately this minor deficiency has little to no concrete effect on the album's overall enjoyment. On "Damnation", the nine-piece act concocts a dexterous hybrid of disorderly punk-rock and aggressive ska, all of which is topped off with an immeasurable dose of fabulous instrumentation.
Yet, regardless of how much one may sugarcoat a modern record, it's awfully strenuous to disconnect near perfect releases from album's concealed by a layer of fancy broadcasts. But, no matter how defectless a single effort may appear, the question of how exactly to improve it's contents always stands. To be fair, and to erase the outbursts declaring personal bias I'm sure to receive, Return of the Kebabulance is in no way a perfect release. While the musicianship is outstanding, and the lyrics are rather inspirational, the band has it's minute flaws alike any group of performers. The songs, although enjoyable, are slightly tedious after repeated listens, and the overall production and sound quality (at times, you might find that it is a tad bit bothersome due to it's sub-par mixing and mastering) could use a few fine tune-ups here and there.
But, I won't be too critical, and I'll give credit where credit is due. The Catch-It Kebabs appear to have mastered the art of performing anthemic, infectious, communicable material, and while their approach may not cause the media's mouths to salivate, they are certainly worth a round or two of hearty applause. Return of the Kebabulance is both strong and distinct, and equally a wonderful release. It's a shame that in this day and age one is forced to pull from the far corners of the world in order to discover a commendable ska-punk outfit, but I count myself as thankful for witnessing this encounter.