Assorted Jelly Beans – What’s Really Going On – Review

Assorted Jelly Beans

What’s Really Going On (Kung Fu)
by Scott Hefflon

Wow! What’s Really Going On came out in the Fall, but with the glut of punk/punkpop/skapunk releases that may as well be released by the truckload, sometimes a release slips through unnoticed. Too bad it had to happen to Assorted Jellybeans. Their self-titled debut (the first release on Kung Fu, started by Joe & Warren of the Vandals specifically to release AJB) was a super-energetic, under-produced testament to youthful energy and sneery fun by a bunch of kids playing skapunk with the emphasis on the punk. What’s Really Going On follows over two years later, and it seems the kids have grown up. And what do spastic kids tend to do when they get older? They get a little more serious, and they get angry. Well, maybe not angry, but there’s a worldly, aggressive edge that wasn’t there last time ’round. And while both records were produced by Warren Fitzgerald, this one is so much fuller (not quite arena punk, but really big and full) with the bolder vocals (puberty has its advantages) right up front.

As always, AJB is all about the group singing and layered “whoa”s and looping choruses cartwheeling atop one another. But What’s Really Going On!?! creates a new sub-genre they themselves occupy – ghetto-style ska-core. So now you have these cute Asian boys singing and yelping in a more palatable Rage Against the Machine style with various hints of urban rage in their Vandals-style group-sing. That’s not to say AJB is going to start making statements and over-doing the tuff-ass homeboy thing (I mean, look at them!), but this record is less goofy and more aggressive – and yet there’s plenty of non-suck ska, too (see early Specials and Fishbone if this sounds like a contradiction). This is a great album to get the party moving, and a fun rant-a-long record to scream at the top of your lungs with friends – flubbing words, losing your place, not being able to keep up, and in general making complete fools out of yourselves.
(PO Box 38009 Hollywood, CA 90038)