When French surf rockers The Wave Chargers released their first full length LP at the end of 2019, it exceeded expectations Their earlier EPs promised good things, but the self-titled disc delivered on all fronts, often sounding like one of the most authentic 60s surf tributes ever. Despite being recorded in Paris and released during the winter, the twelve tunes were a perfect homage to the genre’s legends. The guitar tones from Francis Viel and Louise Sordolliet showed so much of an empathy for the retro style that the bulk of their work could’ve easily passed for long lost Dick Dale recordings. With those high octane vibes joined by a couple of fantastic honking sax breaks, it was a record that served up a gloriously retro half hour; an LP almost to thrill lovers of The Lively Ones, and possibly even the legendary Ventures. In short, they managed to run rings around The Aqua Velvets and other US based revivalists.
Casting their net far across Europe to bring you a selection of Yuletide jollies, this EP from Laketown Records presents four previously unreleased tracks from two cult ska bands. For this festive split, French ska punks Skarface go head to head with Russia’s relative newcomers Suspense Heroes Syndicate in a high octane musical bout – a musical face off in which only one band can be the victor.
Their name might not be familiar, but California’s Mento Buru have shared stages with The Specials, Long Beach Dub All Stars, Desmond Dekker, Fishbone and The Aquabats. They’ve been affiliated with the legendary Moon Ska record label. They’ve worked hard to bring good time ska, reggae and Latin sounds to enthusiastic audiences since the early 90s and, by often sidelining the punkier elements that cut through so many of the third wave acts, as their name suggests, they’ve always sounded so much more authentic than some of their would-be peers.
The band began a hit and miss 2020 by issuing a mini album of archive recordings (‘The Skarage Days Revisited ’92-’96’) which acted as a great collection filler for the fan. In many ways, their second release of the year is of much bigger appeal, even if it has a shorter shelf-life in terms of listening opportunities. As its title suggests ‘East Bakersfield Christmas’ finds Mento Buru bringing the sunny sounds of Kingston to the Californian suburbs, contrasting various winter wonderland scenarios with music that often suggests beaches and warmth.
Although only six tracks in length – five different songs and a bonus Spanish translation – the band’s picks are absolutely classic. Their performances often bring so much life to the very familiar songs, and overall, this EP – although quite far removed from traditional festive fare – is a lot of fun.