Skavoovie and the Epitones
by Scott Hefflon
Long a fixture on Boston’s ska landscape, Skavoovie have finally gotten around to releasing their second album – and it’s all big bucks, and no whammies. Mixed by ska bass master and former Scofflaw Victor Rice at the infamous Fort Apache Studios, Ripe is packed with the band’s swinging, raucously melodic brand of ska, but with an element that their debut album, Fat Footin’, lacked – maturity. Yes folks, Ripe not only applies to the fruit that the pretty girl on the album cover is eating, but also to Skavoovie’s own transcendence from “merely” a bunch of upstart kids playing ska to a force to be reckoned with, a band whose talent is nothing short of astonishing.
Be it infectious instrumental odes to childhood heroes (“Japanese Robot,” “Aquaman”), simmering reggae and rocksteady (“Latvian Lullaby,” “Riverboat”), or the album’s highlight, a head-pounding ditty about the wonderful evils of alcohol (“Drunk”), this album’s great all around. Vocalist Ans Purins treats us to his scatting skills in Duke Ellington’s “Bli-Blip,” while drummer Benny Herson’s burru-style drumming infects us with “The Plague.” The band even has a euphonium player. Before I saw Skavoovie, I had no idea what a euphonium was. So, not only are Skavoovie a killer band, they’re educational too. I’m trying desperately to be objective and search for something bad to say about the album, but I really can’t – except that I don’t know what the hell the lyrics of “Frog Spirit” are talking about. Then again, maybe I wasn’t meant to…
In a year that’s seen ska inching it’s way ever-closer to the mainstream, there’s also been an explosion of new ska albums, and this is the best one so far. That’s that, end of story. I heartily recommend the musical stylings of these feisty lads, and look forward to seeing them headline the next “Monsters of Rock” festival.