Sixstep - House Of Cards
The ska punk craze that first blossomed in the mid-'90s doesn't seem to ever want to go away - No Doubt have a new album dropping in September, Sublime are still going strong, albeit "with Rome" (Ramirez), and heck, Fishbone are back on the concert circuit! A relative newcomer to the fray are Southern Californians Sixstep, who have built themselves a musically sound House of Cards, their fourth release since 2004. Sixstep have dubbed the genre they play "comprehensive rock," and while there are a number of different styles afoot over these 15 tracks (all of which can be previewed here), there is more than a subtle nod to the laid-back, reggae-shaped sound we've heard from so many bands with roots in and around the Orange County area.
Sixstep are no dopey slackers though. House of Cards takes a stand against the bland, overproduced, Top 40 type radio airplay that has been lulling the unwashed masses into a coma for far too long. That's what "Ministry" tries to convey right from the get-go, despite some lyrical corniness - Sixstep are pretty tongue-in-check that way. There's an intelligence and sophistication that's present on almost every song, with an underlying ska rhythm that is simply hypnotic. Aside from maybe "Get in Line" and "In the Rain", there isn't much worthy of being added to a backyard BBQ playlist, but the musical elements that are gradually added, combined with singer Al Rahn's commanding voice, makes this an album you're likely to keep on repeat to catch all the nuances. There's bluesy jazz ("King's Revenge"), acoustic guitar, strings and even some calypso ("Party for Steven"), piano balladry ("Apocalyptic Breakfast"), shooby doo wop ("Enjoy the Free Fall"), and that annoying clown theme Chris Rock has made famous again in Madagascar 3 ("Kløwn").
When you're built on a solid foundation of funky horns and bass, this is one House of Cards that won't be blown down very easily.
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