Record Label: Little Dickman Records
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“Escapes and Illusions” is the third and long awaited reunion album from the crew of New York/New Jersey skasters. With a ten year hiatus between actual Inspecter 7 albums, does the band still carry the ska banner or have they moved on to the greener/blacker pastures of the indie rock emo sound like many of their peers did around the turn of the century?
Obviously the last line is a joke. “Escapes and Illusions” is as far from prepackaged indie rock and the emo garbage that won’t just go away as the moon is from Jupiter. With most of the band carrying over from the Hub City Stompers, most if not all of the member have stayed active in the NYC/NJ ska scene and that carries over into this album. While I’m sorry to see the Hub City Stompers go (technically this version of Inspecter 7 will continue to play HCS songs on tour) the new Inspecter 7 sounds a lot like the Inspecter 7 of old. I’ll have to be honest with you…I was a late bloomer in regards to Inspecter 7. I got into the Hub City Stompers first and once I realized the connections and similarities I started to listen to Inspecter 7 and found the same musical goodness.
What I like about “Escapes and Illusions” is its mostly two-tone era sound as well as the “everyday Joe” stories in regards to the songwriting. The songs feel very working class and that is instantly relatable and likable. The Hub City Stompers had one of the best horn sections that I’ve heard since the days of the Mephiskapheles and that sound also carries over with the new Inspecter 7 songs. I also enjoy the fact that the band has two male lead singers with Giuseppe Mancini and the good Reverend Sinister which reminds me of the Dance Hall Crashers…only as men. I suppose that’s a good enough comparison. The dual vocals really show through on one of my favorite tracks “They Say” where at times it seems like there is only one singer who changes up the pitch and melody, but the first time that you’re able to distinguish who’s who…the singers styles are instantly recognizable from then on. Another favorite track of mine is the trad-ska “This Love Of Mine” which tales the story of two young lovers who try and fail at love at such a young age. It’s told through the foggy memories of time that passed too quickly and also…the saxophone solo is pretty amazing. Other notable favorites are “Fresh Cut”, “Sea Hag” and “Milk Man” with the latter telling the tale of a WWII era milk man that strives to “service” all of his lonely female customers on his route. It’s quite an entertaining listen. “War is tough on everyone”…including the milk man.
Overall there are some great really great songs on “Escapes and Illusions”. I could do without the instrumental tracks, but that’s just a personal dislike for them in general. “Escapes and Illusions” has 14 tracks of brand new material that combines the talent of two of the hardest working and most entertaining bands in the ska scene today. Roll up your pant legs and strap on your suspenders because you’ll be taken back to the early 90’s with this album and the Moon Ska sound that is missing from the scene for the most part nowadays.
Bottom Line: A great reunion album that mixes classic Inspecter 7 with the sound of the Hub City Stompers and mixes it well. “Escapes and Illusions” should hold its place in my top ten albums of the year.
Notable Tracks: They Say, Milk Man, Sea Hag, This Love Of Mine, Old Man Winter