Mad Caddies - Rock The Plank (Cover Artwork)

Mad Caddies

Rock The Plank (2001)

Fat Wreck Chords

The latest full-length release from The Mad Caddies is the introduction of what they call "pirate-core". The Caddies have always been my favourite "ska/punk" band, and as far as i can tell, this isn't a huge shift from the style of music they displayed on their first disc, "Quality Softcore" and their far superior second disc, "Duck and Cover", and their great EP "The Holiday's Been Cancelled" except for a couple of songs that go out of their way to sound very pirate-like indeed, using accordians and textured synths.

The most obvious difference on this record is the fact that the horns have become a lot less prominent than on the previous discs. It's almost as though they were using the horns on their first record to distract listeners from the fact that their guitar playing wasn't all that stellar, and as the guitar parts have gotten better and more complex, the horns have been used less and less. Only about half the songs on this cd incorporate the horns in a serious way. Fortunately, the guitars are huge and well-layered, and there are some great instrumental hooks and some stellar solos. When there are horn parts, they are very catchy, showing off the bands talent for integrating the trumpet and trombone into their tunes, oftentimes using great mutes for dynamics. The album ends on an interesting note with "All-American Badass", which is reminiscent of "Crew Cut Chuck" off their first cd in how it integrates two sharply contrasting musical styles, this one combining polka and punk, sort of how NOFX did on "Theme From A NOFX Album" from Pump Up The Valuum.

Carter's singing is as great as ever. He has a great voice that complements the bands' arrangements very well, and it's always nice to see singers in punk bands with deeper voices. The lyrics are as good as the Caddies have ever had, with odes to pot ("Mary Melody"), the domineering pirate-core lifestyle ("Weird Beard"), and even some social commentary ("We'll Start To Worry When The Cynics Start Believing").

This album seems to be following Less Than Jake's latest, Borders and Boundaries, in the sense that the ska elements are pushed away in favour of a harder punk sound. It suits the Caddies well, though, and they deliver another solid, complete album that shines from start to finish.