Green Room Rockers - Green Room Rockers (Cover Artwork)

Green Room Rockers

Green Room Rockers (2010)

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West Lafayette, Ind., is thousands of miles away from the cluttered slums of Kingston, or the grimy streets of London. Indiana might not seem like a hot spot of ska and reggae music, but native ska act Green Room Rockers are doing their best to turn it into one.

After roughly five years of touring and recording, the band is ready to take a stab at the national (and maybe international) ska scene with their fantastic sophomore album, Green Room Rockers. Following in the wake of roots-reggae revivalists such as the Aggrolites and Westbound Train in the mid-2000s, GRR incorporates many diverse elements into their music in an attempt to create a rejuvenated form of traditionalist ska. The band even masterfully demonstrates the potential of their revitalization efforts in the first 20 seconds of the record.

"Conqueror" opens with the band's signature smooth organ sound and solid guitar work. As the rest of the band kicks in, the song grinds along at a groovy pace that holds steady throughout the course of the album.

The horns that are so instrumental to the ska sound kick in to great effect on the melodic and soulful "Alone". The horns pop up throughout the rest of the record on tracks like the political party jam "Broke" and the cautious love song "Seal the Deal".

While all the instrumentation on the record is top-notch, the linchpin in the band's sound is their sensational lead singer, hyper man and organist Mark "Rudy G" Cooper. His organ work on the album alone could make him the key member of the band, but that fact that he also covers vocal duties with such mastery is truly impressive. His voice is both forceful and soulful, which helps deliver the punch on the more serious songs like the working-class anthem "To Make Ends Meet".

The band lays out its manifesto about halfway through the record with the chill yet danceable "Basement Shows". The song is a nostalgic walk through of a basement show with all its archetypal characters: cops, dancing girls, meatheads, etc. "This small town may be dyin'," wails Cooper in the chorus, "but we got a place to go."

If this record is as well-received as it deserves to be, GRR's days of playing basement shows will be numbered as they head to bigger and bigger clubs. With a high-profile slot on last year's Riot Fest and a stint on the upcoming Ska Is Dead: Young Guns tour with We Are the Union, it seems as if the band is finally turning heads outside of the Hoosier State.