Johnny Cakes - The Curse of the Unsinkable Ship (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Johnny Cakes

The Curse of the Unsinkable Ship (2013)

Lost Florida Records

A ska album that's not only a concept record, but loaded with enough punk and Caribbean steelpan influence, rarely comes around these days but The Curse of the Unsinkable Ship by Johnny Cakes and The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypso does more than enough to justify why you should be taking note of their quirky endeavors, their profane outlook on life, and their infusion of everything you need to laugh your ass off at a fun record.

There's nothing high-concept here and that what makes this record even better. It builds on its simplicity with each track. Ostrich's lead vocals are clean and stand out brilliantly; he's got that voice made for alternative-punk and his tenure on the steelpan is just remarkable. "Johnny Cakes Jumps Up" utilizes the best elements of ska and calypso, which someone from Trinidad and Tobago recognizes best. It's the music of my land that's thrown in the ska mix with enough elements of rapso and kaiso that are akin to David Rudder and Roy Cape - perennial talismans of Caribbean music. There's even a high vibe of reggae in "Dream Vacation" which takes a disturbing turn in its pining for a certain someone but still plays off neatly.

You'd see the homage and influences on which Bedouin Soundclash, Catch 22, Sublime, No Doubt and Streetlight Manifesto pinned their foundations. "The Death of Safety Bob" reaps dividends in its own punk atmosphere and despite the utterly depressive tone of the song, it shows yet another dimension to the group. Tyler Jones' bass is something that this record highlights in the most astounding manner. His contributions on each track really builds the rhythms necessary for the style they're cultivating.

"Responsible Adult" continues the ebb and flow of The Curse of the Unsinkable Ship with its catchiness and the notion of why you don't need to grow up. It's immature and reminiscent of The Offspring's Americana and so much of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. There's punk, acoustic and so much more in the fuel here that you get more than an average ska record. "Suntan Charlie vs The Hurricane" brings the album home on a more punk-heavy vibe and it punctuates how much a Caribbean punk-rocker would be taken aback by the record. It's that dynamic.