I am going to go right ahead and say that Instant Winner is the best local band ever. Most people probably got this impression from my last review of them, but in doing that one, I felt that their second (and my favorite) album "Cease and Desist" needed to grace the punknews.org homepage.
This album is great. I wouldn't go so far to put it in the spectacular range, but it is definitely great. The production is very solid, much more than I expected after there first album and considering that this is a DIY effort too.
"Cease and Desist" opens with a bang with "Time and Time Again," which sets the general heavy tone for the album. The guitars chug along, backed up by the Instant Winner horns, which do not take a seat on this album. Granted, the horns are not in your face, insanity horns, that grace certain Mad Caddies' songs, but they make there mark. "Time and Time Again" flows perfectly, and is one of the better opening songs that I have heard.
"She Does" follows with guitarist Neal Martin pulling his usual more complex-than-your-standard riff. Its no "Angel of Death" guitar solo, but it is a great intro to the song, which shows that Instant Winner can jump from heavy to light. "She Does" has a light hearted happy sound. The tempo changes throughout the song are nice, but the best part has to be when it suddenly jumps to the heavier sound seen in "Time and Time Again" and then shifts back to a lovely little trombone solo.
The song "Iron Fist" appeared on their first album, but I guess the guys felt it wasn't good enough, and I agree. The new "Iron Fist" is one of the better songs on the album. Its fast and it has got one of the best build-ups in any ska song ever. Screaming that we have come to associate with hardcore is plentiful in this song, and it is by far, the heaviest and fastest ska song that I have ever come across.
Finally, the album closes on the seventh track with "Y2K." This is the song that I can probably crank up the loudest on my stereo and have the most fun with. On my last review I said that Instant Winner appeals to my hardcore side, and this song is why. It's heavier a lot of music out there, its got great horn lines to supplement the chorus, its got social commentary, and although I said "Iron Fist" has one of the best build-ups in any ska song ever, I think that "Y2K" has the best build-up in any song, ever. Little production effects swirl around the lone guitar and high-hat before exploding into a full onslaught of heaviness. This song places high on my list of my favorite songs. Finish it off with a cover of "Henry the 8th" and "Cease and Desist" is a solid album.
My biggest problem with it though is the fact that there are only 8 (including the bonus track) which clock in at around 20 minutes of music. Other than that, I am very pleased with this album. Like I said before, the production is superb, better than most releases on a label, and it shows through in what is one of the better ska bands out there.