Sonic Boom Six / Nix86 - Ska Is Dead, Vol. 4 [7-inch club] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Sonic Boom Six / Nix86

Ska Is Dead, Vol. 4 [7-inch club] (2010)

Underground Communique / Asbestos

Although the internet's massive claws have snapped the music industry's neck and squeezed free music across the globe, there has been a secondary effect of making some music more private. Now that there's no money to be had in playing to the widest audience possible, both bands and small labels are releasing music and collectibles aimed squarely at their core audience.

In a bit of self-awareness, Abestos Records and Underground Communique have teamed up to release the subscription-only Ska Is Dead series, which seeks less to appeal to the masses than to satisfy the ska-hungry fan who needs little convincing. Handsomely designed with a zombified 2 Tone Man*, the series features a bi-monthly split release from today's more notable ska bands.

On this issue, Sonic Boom Six and Nix86 team up to play their own versions of third-wave ska. Sonic Boom Six's "Play On" doesn't so much re-invent the wheel as it takes the old girl out for a spin. Their upbeat take on the joy of good music hops and bops is propelled by a ubiquitous upstroke. Although the tune wouldn't feel out of place on a 1996 compilation, the band's enthusiasm for the music is evident, giving the song more of a timeless feel than a dated one.

While Sonic Boom Six keep their ska pretty straight, Nix86 go for more of a pop-punk/ska hybrid on "Peter Pan Syndrome". With the upstroke trading places with the downstroke through the tune, the song seems to tip-toe on that moment in early 2000 when ska bands were unsure if they should charge forward blindly or survey their surroundings before making their next move. Additionally, the clear vocals here go more towards the the pop-punk side, with speed overtaking the rhythm. Such a contrast gives the song somewhat of a more melancholy feel than the flipside.

Now that music is as cheap as water, getting a new MP3 is about as special as turning on the tap. Although the series probably won't turn anyone onto ska who wasn't into it before, it's a nice way of giving value to songs of which the fanbase already knew had value.

* - Fun fact: According to at least one source, the 2 Tone record guy was based off a picture of Peter Tosh. I cannot deny or verify this account, but see: Panter, Horace, Ska'd for life, Sidwick & Jackson, 2007.

Here's what I found through my own research.