Chilled Monkey Brains - APEocalypse (Cover Artwork)

Chilled Monkey Brains

APEocalypse (2014)


Years ago, there was a time or two when I tried to “skank.” I may have even “toasted” at some point. It wasn’t pretty and I have since made a vow to never do it again. Don’t lie- if you grew up in the 90’s you have tried it as well. Although I look back with fondness at albums by Slapstick, Spring Heeled Jack and The Bruce Lee Band, such bands are representative of a by-gone era. It has been evident for many years that “ska-core” was a fad whose time has come and gone.

All of which begs the question: Is there room in today’s musical landscape for ska? Sure, bands from the 3rd wave such as Less Than Jake, Voodoo Glow Skulls, Reel Big Fish and Mighty Mighty Bosstones are still in various states of activity today, but any new ska band faces an uphill battle. There is a stigma attached to the genre that cannot be easily shaken.

However, rest assured that you can listen to APEocalypse by Tallahassee Florida’s Chilled Monkey Brains without trepidation. The album was recorded at Earthsound Recordings by Lee Dyess (Against Me!, From First To Last, I Set My Friends On Fire) and features guest artists Danny Bedrosian (Keyboards, George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic) and Tim Blackmon (Trumpet, Wynton Marsalis, and Fungle Junk). This band takes the essence of what initially drew listeners to ska-punk and adds a contemporary flavor. You do not need a porkpie hat or a skinny tie to enjoy this.

After a Spanish guitar intro, the band kicks into “Enter the Wasteland”, which sounds like an outtake from an early Propagandhi album (with horns to boot) before delving into an extended instrumental section. Most of the song arrangements throughout the album are complex, with multiple genre and tempo changes in each song. There’s certainly enough to keep the listener interested, even if some sections could be a bit more concise.

Synthesizers, horns, guitars, bass, drums and vocals could result in cacophony, but Chilled Monkey Brains nails the instrumentation with skill. The band can handle punk, ska, thrash, metal and jazz with equal relish- this is clearly a talented group of musicians. Listen to “The Tale of Ramirez DePietro” for a good example of the range this band is capable of.

There’s a lot going on musically on this album, and the production and mixing keeps the individual instruments distinct and not muddy. It’s a really huge sound and I imagine this band puts on an ear-splittingly good live show.