Led by original lead singer Monique Powell, who is the only current member of Save Ferris left from the glory days, Save Ferris is back with a 5-song EP which is their first release since 1999’s “Modified”.
While there was uproar in regards to the reforming of Save Ferris a few years ago with former band members wanting no part of it, I see no problem with Ms. Powell fronting a new reiteration of Save Ferris. Aaron Barrett is the only remaining original member of Reel Big Fish and that seems to be working out just fine for them. In fact, I was really excited as well as hesitant to hear what the band had in store. Save Ferris has always been one of my favorite bands since I discovered them way back in the mid-90s and their albums have never left my musical rotation.
Having heard a preview of one of the songs on “Checkered Past” already, titled “New Sound”…a heavy two tone influenced song featuring Neville Staple of the Specials…I assumed that this was the more mature, traditionally influenced Save Ferris sound that I had to look forward to. Again, I was absolutely and totally fine with that. But then I heard the first track.
“Anything” kicks off “Checkered Past” with a crazy fast ska bass line and Fishbone-esque ska guitar that leads into something that sounds like it was lost during the recording sessions of “It Means Everything”. That hit me like a ton of bricks and set the tone for the rest of the EP. “Checkered Past” covers all of the musical personalities that are Monique Powell/Save Ferris.
From the ska punk of “Anything” to the two tone ska of “New Sound”, there is a little bit of everything for rude boys and rude girls abound. “Golden Silence” sounds like a classic Save Ferris track but with a little bit of pissed off attitude and aggression in the lyrics. “Do I Even Like You?” is another classic danceable ska punk track that really reminds me of self-deprecating Reel Big Fish song. The closing song, “Goodbye Brother” is a haunting ska track with a mellow bassline reminiscent of the Specials “A Message To You, Rudy” with lyrics that deal with personal loss and sadness. It’s definitely one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard.
While some people in the ska community are wondering if Save Ferris should have moved forward without some or all of the former band members, I’m sitting here enjoying a Save Ferris EP that is pretty fucking amazing. I can’t count how many times I’ve listened to it already and, if this is a tasted of what will come on a full length album, then I simply cannot wait for that day. Whether they call themselves Save Ferris or Five Guys and a Girl…”Checkered Past” is one hell of a listen. No matter what the name, just remember…support your local ska band!!!
Bottom Line: From ska punk to two tone ska, “Checkered Past” lives up to its ska pun name by providing you with ska sounds that you’ll remember and sing along to for years to come.
Notable Tracks: Anything, New Sound, Golden Silence, Do I Even Like You?, Goodbye Brother