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Music Review: Catch-22 – Keasbey Nights

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Keasbey Nights was released in 1998 on Victory records by a little-known band from New Jersey. But since then, the CD has grown to represent the entire third-wave ska movement. After giving it a listen, I’d say its reputation is definitely justified. While the band has made several lineup changes and style changes since then, this album lives on.

This CD was a high-energy, high-volume, super-fast joyride from the moment I turned it on to the moment the last track ended. The whole time, I kept waiting to see what would happen next. If nothing else, it always kept me on my toes.

Filled with manic guitar rhythms and bouncy horn melodies, this CD is nonstop action. It’s no wonder many call it the best third-wave ska album ever made. It’s not the best in my opinion, but it’s in the top three. The best way to describe it is a musical sugar high without the bad aftereffects. I have no trouble saying that I have played this CD alone in my room and simply jumped around because it was so full of energy.

While the tone of the CD is always upbeat, there are moments where the band does change styles. While frontman Tomas Kalnoky is known for his fast vocals and manic writing style, a few songs go off on different tangents. “Walking Away” is a departure from typical third-wave ska songs in that it has a swing feel to it. I think it hints at jazz and swing while maintaining Catch-22’s ska-punk style. Similarly, “Kristina” is not a radical departure from Kalnoky’s style, but it definitely slows things down a bit. I got a hint of his softer side, but the song still maintained his personality.

As a ska-punk band, Catch-22 also shows a bit of their punk side. The song “Giving Up Giving In” is just everyone playing their instruments as fast as they can. To me, it’s still entertaining and I like to see that side of the group.

The instrumental, titled “Riding the Fourth Wave,” is a fun piece where pretty much every brass instrument gets a solo. When this CD was released, the band consisted of a trombone, trumpet, and saxophone in addition to all the traditional rock instruments with one exception. The bass player used a fretless bass, which gives the songs a certain feel that few ska bands can match. It definitely stuck out to me in “Walking Away.”

Another thing that makes this CD so neat is the way it ends. After the last song plays, the beat and bass line keep playing and all the band members do all their special thanks on the CD. They just recorded and started talking and it wasn’t always perfect, which made it funny.

All in all, this CD is definitely worth whatever money you pay for it. It’s probably hard to find in places other than used bookstores or on the internet, but if at all possible, I think everyone should get their hands on it.

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