Buck-O-Nine - Songs in the Key of Bree (Cover Artwork)


Songs in the Key of Bree (1994)


With Buck-O-Nine's first album in over eight years coming out in a few weeks, I felt it would be an appropriate time to go back to the beginning and review their debut effort, Songs in the Key of Bree. In my opinion, this particular album and Less than Jake's Losing Streak are the two best ska-punk albums of the `90s.

Bree is filled with jumpy and fast upstroke guitars, catchy horn lines, and fun, energetic vocals courtesy of singer Jon Pebsworth. All 19 tracks are fun to listen to and make up a perfect summer album to blast while driving down the freeway with your windows down. While it's hard to make a ska album not seem repetitive, Buck-O-Nine do a perfect job of mixing fast ska-punk with straight-up ska songs and even throw some more chill reggae songs into the bunch.

The album opens strongly with "Barfly," a song that shows off the tight horn section, lightning fast upstroke guitar, and a catchy melody which makes you just wanna get up and start skanking right then and there. The album never lets up from there. The song "Tool" has the best horn line i've ever heard in a ska song next to LTJ's "Scott Farcas Takes It on the Chin." Fan favorite "Irish Drinking Song" is a very fun song in the vein of Flogging Molly that has got to be a blast to experience in the live setting.

Another great song, "Voice in My Head" has two versions to listen to depending on your mood. The first is a ska version and then the album is rounded out with a more punked up version of the song, both which are good in their own right.

The band takes a shot at `80s hair metal in the track "I Don't Wanna Be No J.B.J.," which contains the great lines of "I don't wanna be no Jon Bon Jovi / Grow my hair down to my buttcheeks / Don't wanna be no Jon Bon Jovi / Wearing leather pants on MTV." I know a lot of people are not fans of overly goofy ska á la some of Reel Big Fish's songs, but I feel that this record doesn't quite fall under that category overall.

Overall, Songs in the Key of Bree just plain rocks. I know that I will be coming back to it many times for years to come and it will always have me singing along. I don't see how any fan of ska, punk, or music in general could not enjoy listening to this.