Jeff Rosenstock: SKA DREAM [Album Review]

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Jeff Rosenstock
Polyvinyl Records [2021]

A good song is a good song. That is why single covers work so many times for artists. Full album covers can be a bit harder but when an artist puts their own spin on it typically it makes for a good listen. Many times after the novelty wears off though the cover album fades away. Well, leave it to Jeff Rosenstock to give us an album cover that has tons of replay value and is creatively great – it also is his own album! SKA DREAM is a complete re-recording of Jeff Rosenstock’s Headphone Approved 2020 record NO DREAM. The twist is in the title as all the songs are now Ska!

The idea came together during the pandemic shut down and to make it even more fun, Rosenstock includes contributions from Jer Hunter (JER, Skatune Network, We Are The Union), Rick Johnson (Mustard Plug), Laura Stevenson, Ara Babajian (The Slackers, Leftover Crack), Boboso, Sean Bonnette (AJJ), George Clarke (Deafheaven), David Combs (Bad Moves), Chris Farren, Augusta Koch (Gladie, Cayetana), Angelo Moore (Fishbone), Franz Nicolay, nonregla, Elise Okusami (Oceanator), Mike Park (Bruce Lee Band, Skankin Pickle, Asian Man Records), PUP, Anika Pyle (Katie Ellen, Chumped) & Shannon Toombes. The album and idea could have went completely wrong but NO DREAM was so strong these tracks hold up every time to the re-arrangement.

If you have no ska in your life then SKA DREAM might not be your thing. If you are a Rosenstock fan, give it shot and then let us know if the 4th wave is coming! The beauty of this album is that the beats and brass are inserted flawlessly on every track. The vocals have more call outs plus the inclusion of female voices give songs different flavors and was smartly played. The 2 tone grooves are sharp and you also get some small tributes like on “NO TIME TO SKANK,” there is a nod to a Suicide Machines song while “Leave It In The Ska” borrows a piece from “Nite Klub” by The Specials.

There is plenty of punk throughout this album that really keeps things rolling and at times maintains the original songs speed and punch. In fact, if SKA DREAM would have been released first and independent of NO DREAM, it would have been the ska record of 2020 and even as a reimagined album it will be the best ska record of 2021. The bones of these songs were already great and Rosenstock highlights why ska is so fun in the first place as SKA DREAM takes things to a higher level and shines a big favorable light on the scene.

Key Tracks: “SKrAm!” / “NO TIME TO SKANK” / “Leave It In The Ska”

Artists With Similar Fire: Less Than Jake / The Toasters / The Pietasters

Jeff Rosenstock Review History: NO DREAM (2020) / POST- (2018) / WORRY. (2016)

Jeff Rosenstock Website
Jeff Rosenstock Facebook
Polyvinyl Records

– Reviewed by Thomas Wilde

Thomas Wilde

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