Flying Raccoon Suit - Afterglow (Cover Artwork)

Flying Raccoon Suit

Afterglow (2021)


Mississippi’s Flying Raccoon Suit completely smashed the ska release radar with a colorful breath of fresh air entitled Afterglow.

The album rips open to ska-core and double kicks with the title track, resolving a symphony of horns and a delicate vocal intro from vocalist/melodica player Jessica Jeansonne. The “shoe-gazy” opener showcases ambient rise-and-falls from the rhythm section, as giant waves of horn section arias fill the gaps with punk riffs. “Hive Mind” shuts the swing entirely, with NOFX-level tom work from drummer Derek Kerley and solo melodica from Jeansonne, resolved with similar (and consistently gigantic) brass and woodwind leads. The outro screams Frenzal Rhomb, setting the theme to a stupendous experience for educated fans of punk and ska.

This sets the groundwork for the genius flow chart of clever homage that orbits Afterglow. “Driftwood” opens with Voodoo Glow Skull qualities, yet unexpectedly peels back to upstrokes, just to return to the ska-core when necessary for punctuation. “Bleed Me Dry” introduces clean tones, before smashing into vintage Big D level double-time and wailing horns. “Rebirth” drops the bpm’s dramatically, unveiling unapologetic two-tone ska, complete with a moment for every horn to shine.

“Canary in the Coal Mine” opens up the dramatics and swings of Tragic Kingdom’s title track, and a blank canvass for cornet player Brandon Kenyon to kill wherever necessary, and with help from his mighty horn section. “Static Home” breathes of a great Five Iron horn-line, as “Red Herring” displays Flying Raccoon Suit for what they are: a modern day A.D.D. of punk/ska versus ska/punk, that will leave elitists from either camp no choice but to get over themselves and enjoy a pint together.

Angsty/jumper “Everyone Else” blends Green Day riffs with more anthemic ska, the Toasters level notes that the seven-piece can whittle into their hodge of influences is spectacular. “Nothing’s Changed” is a cool showcase of bassist Joshawa Billiot, who proves to navigate the genre bending and strict traditions of the ska genre in a chameleon like way. “Don’t Wait” is straight dance-hall ska, and a smart staging of horn section solos. “Toss and Turn” initially closes like a closer, but is hoisted by a giant build of horns, and Jeansonne’s commanding vocals and range.

This LP is very, very, impressive. It took 20 years, but ska has finally made its way to the Mississippi swamps. *Slaps roof of Nebraska drivers license* That’s a little nudge for the people that assumed we weren’t cool enough.