Voodoo Glow Skulls - Southern California Street Music (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Voodoo Glow Skulls

Southern California Street Music (2007)


If someone would have told me in 1993 when Voodoo Glow Skulls broke onto the scene with Who Is, This Is that they would be able to sustain their brand of psycho circus-ska and constant worldwide touring for over 13 years, I probably wouldn't have believed it. Yet here they are in 2007, and they haven't lost a step.

In some ways, Southern California Street Music is a typical Voodoo Glow Skulls release. There's a plethora of hyper-caffeinated ska-punk with rapid-fire horn work that doesn't stop even while singer Frank Casillas spits his he-man vocals through the verses. The maniacal upstrokes and schizophrenic horns of "Death Wish List" and "Say Hello to My Little Friend" bring up the rear of the album, and could have easily fit in on the band's defining ska-punk masterpiece Who Is, This Is.

Within their last couple releases, Voodoo Glow Skulls have been showcasing more traditional ska styles, and they're also apparent on Street Music, with "The Ballad of Froggy McNasty" and "When the World Stops Turning." The former features an impressively artistic video and subject matter that seems to dip back into the Glow Skulls' 2002 pirate-themed Steady as She Goes.

In other ways, however, Southern California Street Music breaks new ground for Voodoo Glow Skulls. Like many bands fed up with a seemingly endless military conflict, constant displays of repression and injustice, and eight years of bullshit, Street Music features some of the band's most pointed lyricism yet. While still parading their trademark brand of macabre pseudo-horror themes like "Exorcism" and "Dancing on Your Grave," the band also explores socially conscious ideas like in "Morning Air Raid Sirens": "Given the honor among the thieves / Family traditions and breeding tyranny / Veiled under the guise of the American dream / […] / Old men declaring war, but it's the youth who fight / Dying like a dog for no reason / Casting ballots for the lesser of two evils / The devil's laughing, preparing his acceptance speech." "When the World Stops Turning" utilizes a hypnotic horn line and apocalyptic tone: "Save us from tomorrow, we need help today / Seems like we've been burning bridges instead of trying to pave the way / Seem like the world's turned its back on us." The furious horn-punk of "While My City Sleeps" is a colloquial tribute to the band's Inland Empire home of Riverside, California.

Merging the psychotic, horn frenzied ska-punk of their earlier years with the smoother, more rhythmic ska of recent efforts, Southern California Street Music is a fitting release for the Voodoo Glow Skulls in 2007. Anyone who can appreciate the band for what it is and what it has been for over the last decade will not be disappointed with this record.