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Reel Big Fish - Cheer Up (Cover Artwork)

Reel Big Fish

Reel Big Fish: Cheer UpCheer Up (2002)
Sony Music Entertainment

Reviewer Rating: 3.5
User Rating:


Contributed by: AubinAubin
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Ok, the secret is out. Reel Big Fish is no longer a ska band. Sure, Cheer Up has that ska-sounding guitar thing down, but so did NOFX on "White Trash. They've got horns, but so does Rocket from the Crypt (and I dare you to call them ska). They've even got the silly ska band name, but that's just a .
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Ok, the secret is out. Reel Big Fish is no longer a ska band. Sure, Cheer Up has that ska-sounding guitar thing down, but so did NOFX on "White Trash. They've got horns, but so does Rocket from the Crypt (and I dare you to call them ska). They've even got the silly ska band name, but that's just a red herring. So I tell you, "Cheer Up" is a rock'n'roll record, and a damn good one.

You'd expect a band that spends as much time on soundtracks as Aerosmith to keep cranking out the high royalty ska tracks; but the Fish back off, and concentrate on putting out a honed rock record. Tracks like "Where Have You Been" and "Brand New Hero" have a softer, almost alt-rock sound, while "Drunk Again", "New York, New York" and "Rock'n'Roll is Bitchin'" feature a variety of sounds and influences (Lionel Ritchie, Sinatra, and every hair band, respectively).

The trademark pop-punk-with-ska-leanings sound is ever present, but the pop-punk is turned way up, and the ska is definitely turned down. Like their previous records, Reel Big Fish's lyrics are always spot on, whether lyrically light, or painfully serious relationship deconstructions, and you can count on them to mix it up so the tracks on the record never sound alike â?? lyrically or musically.

I have to admit I'm a confessed Reel Big Fish cynic; after all, three albums, and massive evolutions in sound throughout rarely maintain the same fan base, but I can tell you that this record will not disappoint anyone who stuck by them.

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
Rise Against - Revolutions Per MinuteRise Against - The Sufferer & the WitnessReel Big Fish - Turn The Radio OffThe Lawrence Arms - The Greatest Story Ever ToldThe Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!Against Me! - White CrossesBad Religion - The Dissent of ManNOFX - The War on ErrorismRise Against - Siren Song Of The Counter CultureStreetlight Manifesto - Keasbey Nights

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
neffernin (June 6, 2007)

I think this album was much better than what the consensus seems to be.

First off. let me say this, other than the completely vocal cover new york, new york, the radio release where have you been and rock and roll is bitchin (big guitar solo); all of the songs have horns. People act like they just dropped off their horn section like many bands have. Instead of the ska upstroke, you see many melodic 3-4 note or chord progressions in their songs instead which is no far leap from a few songs on their first three albums (especially Why Do They Rock So Hard).

pinkerton (November 10, 2006)

this is their worst album.

the latest effort is way better, but of course id recommend turn your radio off as a first purchase.

Anonymous (November 15, 2004)

one of the best punk'n'roll-ska albums of one of the best alternative rock bands.

chrisafi (June 26, 2004)

This is the best ska band in the world. Ever.
However, this still only warrants 6/10 because I actually hate ska.
However, this album has some decent "bits" to it, and alright songs but once those trumpets start tootle-ooting I get horrible stabs of pain in between my ears.

Ban The Tube Top is definatly one of the better songs actually. Of course, none of the lyrics are actually any good, but it's ska punk. If you expect divine poetry then you should go and listen to someone else.

Anonymous (December 12, 2003)

This has got to be the worse album I have ever heard, there should be a law agaisnt singing a song called "ban the tube top". RBF suck.

Anonymous (December 22, 2002)

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Anonymous (November 18, 2002)

when i first heard it i was dissapointed. very dissapointed. but overall its a good cd. yeah i agree with one of the last post that after like 9 tracks you gotta start skipin some songs. WHERE IS THE FISH?~!

Anonymous (November 16, 2002)

...and in the first paragraph, when I wrote "sha," I of course meant "ska." Sorry.

-Jay Porter

Anonymous (November 16, 2002)

Sorry, I forgot to sign my comments--

-Jay Porter

Anonymous (November 16, 2002)

Two issues: RBF being ska or not, and RBF changing their sound--

1. In the beginning, before they were ever called Reel Big Fish, Aaron, Matt and Andrew were a party band that covered classic rock. Their main influences were '80s rock bands. Then someone played them a Specials record, and it wasn't until that point that they considered adding horns. So, essentially, RBF were never a ska band. Yes, it's true, during the third-wave craze of the late nineties, they were playing straight ska-punk of the most infectious variety. However, Aaron's metal roots always, always shined through -- for example, there are a lot of ska bands that don't use any power chords, while Aaron used them all the time, even on Turn the Radio Off. A lot -- in fact, most -- sha bands never use electric guitar solos, but Aaron lives by them. This is all just food for thought, but I believe that essentially, RBF were always a rock band that played a lot of ska. On this, their latest release, they play less ska than they've ever played.

2. They changed their sound. No one can deny it. Listen to Turn the Radio Off. Listen to the bare-bones punk angst of "Nothin'." Then listen to the instramental ska musings of "241." You won't find anything along either of those veins on the new album. The punchy ska-punk of TTRO gave way to a more fully orchestrated sound on WDTRSH. But this album takes it a step further, almost eliminating the ska altogether. How many songs have ska guitar, four or five? And that includes the Sublime cover and the secret song.

Overall, I like this album a lot, and I'm a die-HARD Reel Big Fish fan. But I can't deny the fact that when I first heard it, I was disappointed, because I wanted something along the lines of the RBF I was used to. This, more than any of their other albums, is rock. There's definitely some ska, and some punk, but the base, more than ever, is obviously rock. And I have learned to appreciate it as an album -- not so much as an RBF album, just as an album in general -- because the songwriting and musicianship is among the best out there.

If you like good music, check this out. If anything besides a second-coming of Turn the Radio Off will disappoint you, steer clear.

Anonymous (November 2, 2002)

"This cd sucks. RBF have changed so much it makes me want to vomit. RBF used to be some amazing ska/ska-punk music, but this new stuff, i have no idea what the hell it is. I for one will not buy this cd, and i will tell my friends to do the same."

^that's right, keep on telling yourself how bad it is for a band to over a period of time subtly change their style... i want 5 records over a period of 10 years that sound EXACTLY alike....
ohh you and your friends won't buy this cd.... what's up with the plural friends, you seem like a pathetic jaded as fuck wannabe scenester so go back to sucking your little high school adolescent boyfriends cock and leave room for the opinion's of people who are not complete and total morons

Tahoejeff (September 28, 2002)

Rock n Roll is bitchin is a great song. Reel Big Fish is heavily influenced by 80's rock. Its great that they decided to do their own. Bitchin uitar solo...its a bitchin song

Anonymous (July 14, 2002)

Fishbone have been on a major label for the entire duration of their musical career, and everyone looks at them as a founding father of West Coast ska. And Fishbone mixed in all different types of music on their records, ska,reggae,rock,rap,funk. But through it all they we're still considred a ska band. RBF are a ska band, instead of mixing in rap and funk into their songs they use 80's influenced rock and punk. I think ex-RBF trumpet player Tavis said it best "we're a ska band not trying to sound like a ska band." Cheer Up! is one of the best ska albums to come out in years.

Anonymous (July 5, 2002)

I like this CD overall... I hate Rock and Roll is Bitchin, and until I read you's guys' reviews, I didn't realize that Where Have You Been was even a released single. I think it's a pretty sweet song. Good energy, and emotion in it.

to the guy above that said "REEL BIG FISH R NOT PUNK" : Punk is not spelling out the word are, and typing in all caps.

Kurtpunkskacheese (July 4, 2002)

i like this cd. its alittle more rock n roll,still the ska. its exactly what i expected which is good. the only let down is the song "rock n roll is bitch'n" i hate that song.
if you like rbf you will like this. the hidden track is great.

Anonymous (July 2, 2002)

me and a friend talked to them at the warped tour, nampa show, and they are not proud of "where have u been" and when they play it live they use horns. they made that song for the record company. i agree i belive the band is still ska cant judge a band that has been playing ska for yrs and say there not ska becasue of a few songs on a new album.

Jon_the_Skafather (July 1, 2002)

alright, me being a huge fan of the fish......your review is off, the ska and rock is about 50/50. you seemed to neglect the ska songs when you talked about the cd. you neglected that the way they did boss dj would make bradley proud.

and for anyone commenting about their drastic sound change....it isn't drastic, they weren't able to put out a cd for 4 years, they've gotten older in those 4 years.

you left out the fact that where have you been is the most drastically different from the rest of the cd and not to judget the cd by that one song. this cd is so diverse you can't judge it by one song alone.

i'm an old skool rbf fan and this cd is one of their best ever.

all the old skool fish fans that i know love this cd....i dunno what you're talking about losing their old fans. the fans they lost from ttro are the ones who were on the ska bandwagon.

this cd is great and i recommend it to everyone who likes fun cd and is open to diverse music. though....i will say the hairmetal song is blah...they have betters songs they could have put on it like average man or their cover of rock it with i.

the cd rules and prooves the fish are more themselves than ever. they've found their own sound on this cd.

doomlin (July 1, 2002)

Okay this album is good, but its good for different reasons than previous rbf efforts. They have decided to move away from their roots and become something different. There is nothing wrong with this but they are rejecting the sound that got rbf where they are now.

This album will attract new fans but will also mean losing old skool fans too.

adam (June 29, 2002)

"where have you been" is in no way indicative of how the album sounds as a whole. The rest of the album album is the same ironic, bouncy, energetic-horns and ska-chords mixed with some arena-metal that RBF has always played with. I dont think fans of the band will be disapointed with the release as a whole...

Anonymous (June 29, 2002)

i havent heard the album yet... just the single (where have you been)... but, i as a chronic RBF fan dont think i will like it... i mean, the music will be good, it just might as well not be RBF playing, and theres enough good bands playing this stuff out there, but hardly any awesome RBF style bands out there (if there is, they havent really made their name yet??) anyway, i know for sure that im gonna miss RBF, and while ill still appreciate this new band (dunno what they're called), will not be a big fan of the album!!!

Anonymous (June 28, 2002)

If I had never heard of RBF before listening to this CD I would have thought they were a great Less Than Jake style pop punk band with horns. But the fact is I do know who RBF is and Turn the Radio Off is my favorite CD they did, so I miss the ska. That said, if you listen to Why Do They Rock so Hard? you'll see pretty quickly that this is a logical extension of that sound. It's not like one day they just decided to tone down the ska, so I'm not really gonna dock them points because most of the songs on here, after I get over my dissapointment of the whole ska thing, actually do rock. One guy said Ban the Tube Top was too immature for RBF. I don't think anything's too immature for RBF, isn't that their whole deal? My favorite track is Boss DJ because it's my favorite Sublime song. So I guess I'm not to worried about RBF. I'll still go see 'em at Warped, and I know they'll still play some ska, and I'll still go to their shows. This is a rockin' pop-punk record with horns. The only thing that would have made it better was if it was a rockin' ska-punk record with horns, but whadaya gonna do?

Anonymous (June 28, 2002)

i bought their first CD back whenever it came out(first LP I mean). Its good, but I'm not going to listen to this now. Too many people from my town listen to it, I just don't want to be like them, I want to be different. That's why I listen to the Hippos never. I listen to a lot of CODESEVEN and LEWIS. I also really like the soundtrack to THE JACKAL, I always crank that shit in my 2002 Chevy Blazer.

lolaq (June 28, 2002)

i just got the album today. it's pretty good, but a bit more mellow and less horn-dependent than the other albums, which kinda disappoints me. i also am not too impressed with the "boss dj" cover, but i guess i'll get over it.

Anonymous (June 27, 2002)

Real big fish r not punk!!!

Anonymous (June 27, 2002)

I saw the band about two months ag so I got a preview of some of the new stuff. They may not be as "ska" as before, but this album is fucking great! The sound of every song is great. Its just as good if not better than "turn the radio off"

CallingLondon (June 27, 2002)

oh fuck, i didn't realize Adam had said the exact same thing as me a few posts down. sorry.

Fuzzy (June 27, 2002)

Good album. And I'm glad people out there know what ska is. I was watching to No Doubt Behind the Poopsex on VH1 and VH1 (a fairly knowledgable music channel) was trying to say that Madness was a father of Ska. Modern ska, maybe, with their Nutty 2Tone sound, but definately not Jamaica Ska. Go grab some really early Bob Marley, like Simmer Down, that's some ska. Desmond Dekker, Laurel Aitken (although he also did the Skinhead Reggae, and is still around). The album's good, I just don't really need anymore "post highschool goofiness" in my music collection. The BossDJ cover just doesn't hold a candle to the AMAZING acoustic version they did when I saw them at the 930 club with Catch22 though.

evildeadalive (June 27, 2002)

Pay attention everyone. The most/least popular punknews user since the legendary Fathead, Joe_Momma is on vacation in Spain. He only posted that news like 10 times gosh darnit.

Anonymous (June 27, 2002)

Reel big fish have done it again with this sure fire hit
It's still not as good as turn the radio off. I really enjoyed the New york new york cover. is there a song they can cover geez.
They are yet to hit the mark with this one but there close if you ask me maybe in another 4 or 5 years they will bring out the masterpiece that we all know they have in them.

CallingLondon (June 27, 2002)

i know perfectly well what ska is. it's what came before reggae actually, and the ska was slowed down to reggae because the summers were too hot to dance to the fast ska. that's what i've read atleast. i've heard the album now, and it definitely has the fast reggae guitar, but it's not really island music like real ska is supposed to be, but rbf was never like that. i don't see much difference here, except a little more punk/metal. it sounds alright to me, it might need a few more listens.

Anonymous (June 26, 2002)

it seems like a lot of ska bands today are making albums that are more "rockin" and have less ska. i think they're doing this because that's what everybody likes now. ska isn't popular so they have to somehow sound more apealing the masses. it's sad to see great ska bands become mediocre "rock" bands just to sell records.

Anonymous (June 26, 2002)

where's joe mamma's thoughtful analysis of this record? hopefully he hasn't fallen out of the back of his little yellow school bus and died.

kingpin

Anonymous (June 26, 2002)

Ok so why do all you guys want RBF to mature? Being kinda immature has always been their style and I personally like it. A Little Doubt.. is a really good song on this and sounds like their old school turn the radio off stuff. Good Thing is rad as well! If you guys want to hear some newer ska that rocks hard, check out Aaron's side project the Forces of Evil (www.theforcesofevil-ska.com)

Anonymous (June 26, 2002)

these guys have the most cliched lyrics in punk. them and anti-flag.

kingpin

adam (June 26, 2002)

Adam's music-nerd correction of the day:
"ska is reggae w/ horns"

nope.... I'll steal this from AllMusic.com "Reggae's direct forefather is ska, an uptempo, rhythmic variation based on the New Orleans R&B Jamaican musicians heard broadcast from the US on their transistor radios. Relying on skittering guitar and syncopated rhythms, ska was their interpretation of R&B and it was quite popular in the early '60s. However, during one very hot summer, it was too hot to either play or dance to ska, so the beat was slowed down and reggae was born."

With the exception of the "one hot summer" dribble, that's pretty accurate. Check out something by Toots & The Maytals, which is about as genuine ska as you can get, but dosent really rely on horns.

Anonymous (June 26, 2002)

I think it's obvious that this is not a ska album. It's pop rock with occasional ska influences. Is that so bad? I don't know about all of you, but my music taste isn't limited to ska, so I found that I could appreciate this album in its own right. These are well-crafted pop songs. The whole album was well done. The horns are solid throughout. If you're looking for ska or old RBF, don't buy this. But if you've got an open mind, I suggest you give it a try.

Anonymous (June 26, 2002)

callinglondon, ska is reggae w/ horns, reel big fish sped it up alot, like fast reggae verses w/ poppunk chorus' w/ horns on the first albums. now the popunk chorus's and horns are there, but most of the fast reggae is gone. the only truly ska songs on the album are tracks 6-8 and that sublime cover, while the rest is just rock/punk w/horns. this is a horrible description but maybe now you'll understand what people are bitching about.its a progression and lessthanjake did the same on boarders and boundaries. its just what seems to have happened to ska bands, i don't necessarily like it but fuck. no ones straight up skapunk anymore, not the suicide machines, not ltj, not rxbandits, and what ever happened to buck o nine?

CallingLondon (June 26, 2002)

for those of us who haven't heard the record yet, why do you say they aren't ska anymore if they still have the ska guitar and horns? what in the music makes it not ska?

adam (June 26, 2002)

"RBF have changed so much it makes me want to vomit"

I'm curious how you came to this conclusion, to me it sounds like a pretty logical extension of their previous material.

Anonymous (June 26, 2002)

This cd sucks. RBF have changed so much it makes me want to vomit. RBF used to be some amazing ska/ska-punk music, but this new stuff, i have no idea what the hell it is. I for one will not buy this cd, and i will tell my friends to do the same.

Anonymous (June 26, 2002)

not to be a nit-picker but nofx's white trash wasnt very ska at all,(just bob) your probably thinking of 'so long and thanks...' def. their most ska album (180 degrees,all oughta angsnt, eat the meek).sorry.

Anonymous (June 26, 2002)

I always find Reel Big Fish has put out good music. These guys and Goldfinger are both way underated. Reel Big Fish is probabaly one of my favorite bands to skate too, it pumps you up, too all the skaters out there, definetly skate to this shit, its gnarly

Anonymous (June 26, 2002)

i bought their first CD back whenever it came out(first LP I mean). Its good, but I'm not going to listen to this now. Too many people from my town listen to it, I just don't want to be like them, I want to be different. That's why I listen to the Hippos never. I listen to a lot of CODESEVEN and LEWIS. I also really like the soundtrack to THE JACKAL, I always crank that shit in my 2002 Chevy Blazer,

Anonymous (June 26, 2002)

i love this cd. i mean, i love all of the RBF cds, even their first release, bad quality and all. I think "New York, New York" musically is the best track they have ever recorded. They basically copied the entire Frank Sinatra (the greatest male singer ever, hands down) arrangement, vocally and instrumentally and turned it out accapella. That alone shows maturity as musicians. If they released this song 7 months ago it would have been a national hit.

as for the rest of the album, as previously stated, i love it. "Drunk Again" is a great song, excellent 6/8 feel lounge style, as are "Dateless Losers" and the incredible cover of "Boss DJ". The key resolution of one step up near the end of the song gets me everytime I hear it. This cd is wonderful, everyone should hear it atleast once, because you will be hooked.

PaT

Anonymous (June 25, 2002)

Good album, but too many ups and downs. I HATE Where Have You Been. And come on - after like 2 or 3 listens, Rock N Roll is Bitchin and NY, NY will be constantly skipped. Totally throwaway. Boss DJ rocks. Other good tracks are Cheer Up, Good Thing, A Little Doubt, and Dateless Losers. Good, but pales next to their other major label albums.

Anonymous (June 25, 2002)

I listened to it today in the record store...I don't really like it.
It's not bad, persay, but not nearly as good as their other stuff.
Yes, it's true, they don't even bother to pose as a ska band. Apparantly they heard everyone yelling that ska was dead, and decided they better not risk it...
So what does that leave us with? A pop-punk record that doesn't do pop-punk as well as many other bands out there. There is also a shitload of arena rock thrown in there...
Also, I feel that the record is too immature for these guys. I mean, I know Reel Big Fish has never attempted to be mature, but as one ages it just seems like it should be a natural progression. People should write music that conveys what they know and what they feel. It's OK to be young at heart, but if Aaron is as immature as some of these songs are, there's a problem...
That's just my opinion...Give it a listen yourself, as it seems many others seem to like it. Just don't expect the fun rockin' upbeat ska-punk you've known in the past from these guys.

martin (June 25, 2002)

I havent heard this album but I am surprised the Joe_Momma hasnt placed his usual ignorant comments here yet.
Oh well he must be sleeping.

FatTony (June 25, 2002)

Great album! I've been waiting for this one since October 1998 and it was well worth it. And I'm apparently alone in my love for the song Ban the Tube Top. Can't wait to see them at the Warped Tour.

Anonymous (June 25, 2002)

what's with everyone ragging on ska?

kirbypuckett (June 25, 2002)

i like it.

Anonymous (June 25, 2002)

this album is solid, but not as good as it shoudl be after a 4 year hiatus. the first half rules, but then fizzles around track 9. less ska, more rock and power pop w/ horns. still a few straight up ska tracks, but slower. not as good as the last album, but def. has its high points. and yea that 'tube top' song is way to immature. these guys are like 30. it would be like blink singing abou the prom and first dates cuz their 25,25 and 30 years old. oh wait they do. but 'where have u been' is soo goood. so is suckers. cool cd and its good to see them back considering how dead ska is, for better or worse depending if u like it or not. lets hope the bosstones and mustard plug come through w/ their releases.

Anonymous (June 25, 2002)

Eh, i would say this CD is as "Ska" as the last one, which isn't saying its a ska CD. RBF have really always been a wierd cheeze metal/punk/ska hybrid. I like this disc though.

AlucardX (June 25, 2002)

Great cd, i like it more than Why Do They Rock So Hard, but still, nothing can top Turn The Radio Off. Dateless Losers is such an awesome song.

whendovescry (June 25, 2002)

Why are you in my kool-aid if you do not know the flava?

Fuzzy (June 25, 2002)

i just bought this
I have to say it does rock.
but it's missing something
first of all the song "Ban the tube top" should never have been written...it's silly...but way too...young for these guys...but overall it's a good album. Their cover of Boss DJ finally made it to the studio which is cool. But nothing could ever compare to seeing them do a completely acoustic version of it at the 930 club in DC a year (or two) ago...it was fscking amazing. A great album, but lets not forget how strong the first two (actually three!) were. Much respect to the fish, hopefully their next album will be Grow Up! though.

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