Indication (IR 001)Grade: ****
Ska?s third wave may have long since crested, but The Pietasters sound anything but washed up on their new CD, All Day.
A time capsule of Motown licks, ska horns, and bluebeat rhythms, the CD might be dry on originality, but when it comes to tunefulness, well, it?s an absolute day at the beach.
This is the first Pietasters disc in the past half decade, and in that time they?ve been able to accumulate lots of first-rate material thanks to new composer Jorge Pezzimenti (who replaced the late Todd Eckhardt on bass).
Time has mellowed the band and their punky energy is largely gone. But that?s made up for by Pezzimenti?s hook-happy tunes and Steve Jackson?s more mature singing. Who says ska bands can?t change?
One thing that has changed is the ska scene. The kids who once spent their nights ?skanking? to the music in the 1990s are now grown and probably listening to indie. Heck, even The Mighty Mighty Bosstones (for whom The Pietasters used to open) are on hiatus.
But no matter. On this independently-released effort, The Pietasters party like its 1997 (when they released their biggest CD, Willis, and were preparing to play several Warped Tours). Maybe they?ll be able to reel back their audience like Reel Big Fish.
All Day is filled with the kind of tunes that summon that 1960s Saturday-in-the-convertible vibe. The opener, ?Change My Ways? sounds like The Foundations with a more soulful foundation. The upbeat ?Don?t Wanna Know? matches old-school ska with pure pop vocals. ?Late Night Call? uses a reggae beat and fetching melody to tell a bittersweet tale of a guy ?drunk dialing? his gal. The ultra-catchy ?Keep on Lyin?? uses a swingin? Supremes rhythm to create an addictively infectious groove. ?Ordinary? sounds like old soul done up new wave.
The CD?s overly-limited sound seems designed to evoke the sound of music blaring out of an old transistor radio. In a similar vein, Louis Arzonico?s cleverly crafted inner sleeve places the song titles on the labels of imaginary 45 records.
As all that idea might indicate, The Pietasters aren?t serving up much of anything new with All Day. But they whip up a sweet confection that any fan of retro music will want to sample.