Mustard Plug / The Beatdown - Ska Is Dead, Vol. 2 [7-inch club] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Mustard Plug / The Beatdown

Ska Is Dead, Vol. 2 [7-inch club] (2010)

Underground Communique / Asbestos

In the second installment of the Ska Is Dead 7-inch club, Grand Rapids, Mich., veterans Mustard Plug combine with Montreal, Quebec's the Beatdown for a split effort of Northern ska exposure.

Mustard Plug has put out consistently good albums since 1997's Evildoers Beware and only been on hiatus once since their formal formation in 1991. As a matter of personal preference, it's always seemed like many of their major-scale songs are instant classics ("Yesterday", "Go!", "Beer", "You", "Box", etc.), while their minor-scale offerings ("Never Be", "Not Again", "Mendoza", etc.) are less infectious.

Their offering here is kind of in between. "Aye Aye Aye" is, in some ways, a typical third-wave ska song, with fast, flickering upstrokes, intermittent horn blasts and walking bass. There's no distortion overkill though, and the quality dual horn soloing helps stretch out the structurally standard song. If you generally like Mustard Plug, you'll probably like this song.

The Beatdown contributes a nice, warm reggae tune called "Piece of Mind". It has a smooth, surf-like guitar lead that helps make up for the lack of horns, and the instruments all mesh together very well to produce a relaxing, carefree vibe that stands in stark contrast to the uppity upstrokes of Mustard Plug's mischief.

Mustard Plug and the Beatdown both deliver solid songs on this split 7-inch. While "Aye Aye Aye" is a caffeinated skank-stimulator and "Piece of Mind" is more of a mellow relaxative, they join for a nice, concise Ska Is Dead combo platter.