Is ska-punk back from the dead?

The last couple of years have seen great releases from a number of 2nd and 3rd wave ska bands that haven’t made albums in years, including The Specials, Less Than Jake, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Voodoo Glow Skulls, Goldfinger, and Suicide Machines, as well as highly anticipated releases by newer ska groups, like We Are the Union, Kill Lincoln and Catbite. We saw Jeff Rosenstock, now a Pitchfork-style indie rock darling, return to his ska/punk roots on Ska Dream.

Then there are newcomers to the scene, like the multi-instrumentalist Skatune Network, who has been racking up plays on YouTube, as well as racking up positive press coverage right and left. They have also brought more visibility to trans musicians within the ska scene and contributed to some of the albums mentioned above.

There have been podcasts, and more podcasts, springing up, and popular books, and more books, coming out on the subject. We saw the first Ska Against Racism compilation in years (it couldn’t have come at a better time), and the What Do You Know About Ska Punk comps have been bigger and better.

There is also the seeming anomaly of a ska-punk band like The Interrupters getting airplay on mainstream radio, or at least it felt like an anomaly a few years ago, now it feels like a possible harbinger of things to come.

Then there are the massive ska cover bands formed over the internet during the pandemic-induced lockdown, with musicians from all over the world recording tracks at home and sending them to each other (really the only want to safely start a ska band during an airborne pandemic — trumpets and trombones are basically the perfect Covid-delivery devices!) Bands like the NPCs and The Housebound Ska Collective have been chocking up tens of thousands of views for their covers of both ska and non-ska songs (which are then ska-ified).

It sure is an exciting time to be a ska and ska-punk fan! This was far from a comprehensive summary of all the cool stuff going on. Comment below with all the bands and releases I left out! I’ll try and get to them in the next post!

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