Easy Skanking

For many people the Nineties ska revival was an uptempo bubblegum pop hell where anything deeper than a birdbath was discarded and skanked on until it died. But while the third wave has crested and receded into oblivion, N.Y.C. rocksteady kings the Slackers are the last men standing. Unlike its pop-ska relations, this group stuck to its jazz, dub, and reggae roots like glue, educating the masses at the time and lasting long enough to joyfully entertain the true believers today.

Close My Eyes, the Slackers' seventh album, finds lead singer Vic Ruggiero's gruff yet sweet baritone in top form. Just try to ignore the charms of "Old Dog," an elegy sung from the point of view of a toothless mongrel who has just been shot by its master: "If I could have one more time/To howl at the moon/Chase bitches in heat/Have the world at my feet/I would give anything." Can't do it, can ya?

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Tom Bowker