2021 was a busy year for US ska/punk/rock band Half Past Two. They not only released their self-titled full length – their first new work for a couple of years – and a well received video lamenting the perils of a ‘Scratched CD’, but they also returned to live work after a long spell away from the spotlight. In addition, they also found time to record a covers EP, based around a “holiday” theme.
If you were the kind of person that went to ska and punk gigs back in the late 90s, chances are you saw King Prawn. Chances are you saw the band a lot. There was a period when they seemed to support anyone and everyone. No matter how many times they appeared on a bill, though, they were always entertaining…and once seen, nobody could ever forget bassist Babar Luck’s distinctive presence.
The band split in 2003 but reformed nine years later without Luck. The idea of a King Prawn without him seemed odd at first, especially since he was such an integral part of the original band’s live show, but it was good to have them back. Showing off a more commercial side, King Prawn’s 2014 comeback single ‘Done Days’ was, in some ways, a lacklustre return to studio work, but five years on, the long-awaited full length ‘The Fabulous New Sounds of King Prawn’ is a marked improvement.
Based between London and Norwich, Millie Manders and The Shutup are a cross genre punk/rock/ska band who’s main aim is to hit their audience with big riffs and a bigger attitude. They’re one of those bands that seemingly never stops touring but, naturally, the hard yards put in on stage have made them tighter and tougher with the passing of time. Their 2018 EP ‘Shut Up’ showcases a variety of styles and moods from within the band’s musical canon, but still sounds remarkably coherent. This has much to do with Millie’s big voice – she has a definite presence, even on record – but it’s also down to some great brass; whether delving into straight ska or sounds of a more crossover variety, the horns sound huge throughout.
No lions, no tigers, just bears…and judging by their use of punctuation, the proximity of said bears would seem to be a matter of some urgency for this Rhode Island ska punk troupe. Having expanded their horn section since the release of 2015’s ‘Bad News Bears! Bears! Bears!’, their second EP carries on where the previous release left off and, yes, urgency is very much the watchword here. The six tracks on ‘Every Piece Counts’ owe a huge debt to the works of Less Than Jake but, in terms of general enthusiasm, Bears sound much more appealing than Chris, Roger and Vinny have since the days of ‘Hello Rockview!’…and it’s somewhat frightening to note that at the time of this EP’s release, that LTJ album is almost two decades old.
Less Than Jake and Reel Big Fish have announced a full-scale co-headline tour of the US. The stalwart bands of ska’s third wave will be joined by Hellcat signings The Interrupters, Pacific & Ballyhoo at all shows.
LTJ’s only confirmed UK shows are summer festivals at this time.