Big D and the Kids Table - Strictly Rude (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Big D and the Kids Table

Strictly Rude (2007)


If any genre of punk-related music can bring out the best, and the worst in its bands, ska is right up there. For a style that has so much talent, diversity and overall cultural influence, it seems a stagnant progression in the "third wave" left a bad taste in everyone's mouth. Sure, the music was fun, but people grow up, and honestly, the same riffs and horns get tired and worn.

Boston's Big D and the Kids Table have been trying to carve out of that niche for a few years now, though it wasn't until 2004's How It Goes that the band was able to break out of the same stereotypical sound and put ska back on the map. Truly walking the line between punk, third wave ska and traditional ska influence, it was a record that seemed to proclaim that the genre wasn't going down without a fight.

The band returns with a new album on a much larger platform with indie giant SideOneDummy, and the band hasn't just lost a single step -- they've take one giant leap forward. Strictly Rude builds on the influences hinted at in How It Goes, but begins to formulate the music into a sound and style of their own.

There are the faster, more upbeat numbers, such as "Noise Complaint," "Fly Away" and "Breaking the Bottle," which only confirm the band's roots in punk, but the tone is less brash and contains more of a "party" feel to it. It's material that would easily translate into their live show seamlessly. This point is most clearly demonstrated in the album's opener "Steady Riot," a rock number that, while staying up-tempo, has a smooth feel to it.

However, Strictly Rude, per its title, more often than not delves into traditional dub and ska, and the band it executes it finer than medieval beheadings. Songs like "Shining On," "Strictly Rude" and the organ-heavy "Try Out Your Voice" take this approach and intermingle it with an anthem-laden chorus and crunching guitar chords apiece. "The nightclub's closing down they say!" shouts mouthpiece Dave McWane in "Relocate the Beat," which establishes a wonderful, Specials-style atmosphere.

Ska is defined by many by the inclusion of horns, and that's really where Big D hit their stride. Instead of writing songs that attempt to shove this stereotype at the listener, they create music that blends a melody of sounds and instruments providing a full demonstration of the art they are conveying. This leads to my feelings about a quality contained in this record that again continues from How It Goes: Strictly Rude is an album meant to be listened to in its entirety. If you want to pick up something to pluck a few tracks from, "Steady Riot" will fit your MP3 player's playlist nicely. But to fully appreciate this album, sit down, have a drink, and take the 51 minutes to absorb something you can easily listen to in 20 years that won't sound the least bit dated.