Big D & the Kids Table: Fluent in Stroll

Boston-based Big D & the Kids Table are still chugging along, with a tenth album in 12 years. Unfortunately that is all they seem to be doing, playing the same, tepid ska-punk that rolled out with the Third Wave in the mid-’90s, and hasn’t changed much at all in the intervening time. Third Wave Ska was much less political and much more pop, thriving on a dynamic hard rock attitude that made big names like the Mighty Might Bosstones and No Doubt thrive, and that dynamism is completely missing on Fluent in Stroll..  The call and response between lead singer David McWayne and the gaggle of rudegirls is entertaining at times, but McWayne’s vocals are bland as white bread and their reputable live energy is too diluted in the studio to capture much attention. Lyrically there is nothing more challenging than fare for teens and drunk college students at a summer fair. Perhaps that is the appeal of Big D; they are predictable but comfortable, undemanding but fun like sipping a watery American beer at your favorite local pub. Perhaps they are too similar to their contemporaries from the left coast, Reel Big Fish, who also continue to churn out the same old ska punk… both had well received albums in 2007 that tried to put a lie to “ska is dead,” but both 2009 follow-ups fall flat. Side One Dummy

Big D MySpace page


Reel Big Fish: Fame, Fortune and Fornication

Covers are nothing new to Reel Big Fish. They gave A-ha’s “Take on Me” the full blown ska treatment, offered a doo wop version of “New York, New York” and reggaed Tracy Chapman’s “Talkin’ ’bout a Revolution” on past releases. In 2007, they joined with Zolof the Rock & Roll Destroyer in splitting an EP of covers and offering co-lead vocals on each other’s tracks on the tremendous Duet All Night Long. Fame does make you smile because Aaron Barrett and his merry band of nuts are as funny as they are talented, but if falls short of Duet because too much of it is simply ska versions of very familiar material. They do sound like they are having fun (as they always do), but these versions lack the fire and enthusiasm that the Duet record captures. Highlights of this quick-hitting 30-minute record, which features covers of Poison (two, actually), Van Morrison, John Mellencamp, and Tom Petty, include a reggae-soaked take on the Eagles’ “The Long Run” and the minimalist duet between Barrett and Tatiana DeMaria (from the Rock/Punk outfit Tat) on Poison’s “Talk Dirty to Me,” which is comprised of a rhythm guitar track, handclaps and an excellent and understated vocal performance. Fame has its moments and is more like an after dinner mint then a meal. (Rock Ridge Music)

Reel Big Fish MySpace page