Instant Winner - Free For All (Cover Artwork)

Instant Winner

Free For All (2002)


For those who live in the northwest, especially the Tacoma area, they have most likely seen a six piece ska band known as Instant Winner. In their third DIY release "Free For All", Instant Winner has matured and begun to master the heavy ska sound. They have also begun to separate themselves from a genre whose lyric's stereotypically have had a more fun and upbeat tone (note people how I said stereotypically, I am not saying all ska bands are like that, stereotypically). Free For All is chalk full of political statements, but still retains songs that everyone can relate to.

Perhaps one of the greatest aspects of Instant Winner is only guitarist/lead vocalist Neal Martin's guitar work. The first track "Man Down" contains some pretty tough riffs for a person that is also singing. Although there is a focus on the horns, the guitars take the spotlight on this album, and it's a good thing because they are solid across the board.

The fourth track on the album contains perhaps one of the top ten intros of all ska-time. "The Fight" showcases drummer Morgan Hushagen young talents quite well. The horns line combined with the drumming is spectacular, and one of my favorite songs they have done.

Like I said before, the lyrics of "Free For All" is what separates them from most of your stereotypical ska bands. Many of the songs contain a harsh liberal edge, but not to the Anti-Flag extreme. "Final Friend" is a song about friendships, and is something that most everybody can relate to. On their political lyrics, written by lead-man Neal Martin, they at some points seem a little weak. From Man Down, "So we fight for the right to freedom in this world, so it's right for the fight to happen no more rules." As they are a young band, it is understandable though, not everyone can expect the highly tuned lyrics of Anti-Flag (even if you think those guys are whiny bitches, Justin Sane and co. still churn out some solid songs lyric-wise).

All in all, the newest album from Instant Winner is an overall solid album. Considering that it was a DIY album as well as the fact that they are my favorite local-band live, Instant Winner from Puyallup, Washington is a great band. They contain an edge that can satisfy my cravings for heavy music and they have climbed into one of my favorite ska bands. Even if you don't think anything of them, check out their site and their cover of Weezer - Say It Ain't So. It is spectacular.