With more and more ska bands ditching their horns and straying off the wave they rode on, new albums from third-wave ska bands are getting less and less anticipated, even by hardcore fans. The Mad Caddies were one of the 3rd wave-ska bands that turned their horns down in their last album, Rock the Plank, and many feared that they would continue down that path with their next album. Instead we get Just One More, a return to the Dixieland jazz and swing that gave the Mad Caddies their flavor. While they take a poppier side to their music on many songs, the jazz and swing are fully intact and as good as ever on this album... plus their hard-edged punk rock sound is here to kick some ass as well. While it isn't their best album, it's quite possibly one of the most fun to listen to, and so far it's one of the freshest albums of the year.
Although good things are to come, Just One More begins in surprisingly mellow fashion with "Drinking for 11," a depressed bar song that hits some ska notes but remains to tired and depressed to be much of anything. Things start kicking off with "Contraband," a celebration to all things vile. At just over 1 minute, this fast punk song sets the tone for aggressiveness on the album.
"Villains," the third song, re-introduces us to the traditional Dixieland Jazz used in Mad Caddies song, and mixing this with a great punk beat makes for another great song. The song resembles "Road Rash" a lot, and picks up from Dixieland jazz intro to a blazing fast punk song. The great thing about the song is that Dixieland elements reintroduce themselves right after the chorus. The integration of the punk and ska that was missing from Rock the Plank is so vibrantly shown in this song. Without a doubt one of the best songs on the album, and a great way for the Mad Caddies to return to what they do best.
"Silence" follows, and contains a jazzy and really catchy intro. This song is basically all ska, and while the music is excellent, as are the verses, the chorus is a bit unimaginative making it a turn off for the song. Consisting of only the repeated line "Bomb the Enemy! Silence!," it gets old fast. A better thought out chorus would definitely make "Silence" as fun to listen to as other songs on this album, but the somewhat boring chorus lowers this song's otherwise excellent aspects. Still, "Silence" is a great song.
The title track, "Just One More" is next. An acoustic guitar intro starts up on the song. It definitely sounds like a song you'd hear at a Mexican restaurant...and that's not a bad thing, so don't worry. It's a lot less aggressive than other Mad Caddies songs, but it shows a level of originality and experimentation on the part of the Caddies, and successful experimentation at that. Even some of the song is sung in Spanish...so how's that for something new?
"Day By Day" is pop-punk Mad Caddies style. Very little ska here, but since the rest of the album is loaded with it, that's totally fine. The great part of the song is how the chorus just speeds up and really has an upbeat feeling, although the lyrics do delve in depression. The ska elements enter at the end of the song, adding a great effect. Unlike the convention, poorly-written pop punk that take up so much airplay, this is some fun pop-punk done nearly perfectly by the Mad Caddies.
"Leavin'" is a typical Mad Caddies song, but that's not saying anything bad. The song talks about an often recurring theme, time passing by so fast. The verse-chorus relationship is excellent, as the slow verse-fast chorus thing is used again and works really nicely. There is also an ingenious part near the end of the song where it just goes right into swing jazz. This one is definitely a crowd pleaser, from the chorus, to the horns, to the vocals, "Leavin'" is one song that you'll be listening to again and again on the album.
"Rockupation" has a distinctly warm tone to it, with an intro that sounds like it was spoken by R. Lee Ermey. "Rockupation" is stupidly catchy and insanely upbeat, which may turn away some people, but it's one of the guilty pleasures of the album. It's definitely got a jumpy feeling to it, and if you like how it rolls, it's definitely one of the many highlights of the album.
"Last Breath" has some has strong ties to "Falling Down," another song done by the Mad Caddies. The song has a very film noir feeling, almost like a song out of And Then There Were None. The song has a slow, creeping verse which has a very mysterious feeling to it. The intro to the chorus has some excellent work by the horn section, and the chorus feels like a full-march. The song really has some insanely catchy elements, and is definitely one of the harder songs on the album. The great horn work and guitars are excellent, and the drums are effective as well in this song. It all comes together here.
"Spare Change" is a lot like "Drinking for 11," but while just as depressed, it's definitely catchier and more fun to listen. The simplistic bass lines and drum beats along with the slick vocals give a lonely feel to the song, but also one of the most original. The song is very mellow for the Mad Caddies, but works great. It's a slowdown point for the album, but a nice one at that. Things pick up once again once "Riot" hits the streets, or your CD player. This song is pure anger, and a great way to get your fist pumping. While the lyrics do fiddle around with political stuff, something that has gone stale in lyrics due to their watering down by many bands, the song still is lots of fun to listen to. It's another super-fast punk song, and has the most attitude and is the hardest song on the album, complete with a guitar solo and all. Definitely another one worth listening to.
"10 West" sounds like it came straight off a Mighty Mighty Bosstones album from the intro. The song, though, has the distinct feeling of the Mad Caddies. The song deals with being constantly on the road, something bands have to deal with on tour. But the song has some attitude with it, including repeated chants of "Drink! Smoke! Drink Smoke! This is what we do!!". The horn section is great here, and as stated before, they sound a lot like the Bosstone's horn section.
"Good Intentions," "Wet Dog," and "Game Show" all close the album on a positive note. All have elements of Mad Caddies albums, "Good Intentions" representing their poppy side, "Wet Dog" showcasing their excellent ska talents, and "Game Show" showing their experimentation. The fact of this album is that there are about 1 or 2 songs that are average. Everything else on this album is well...excellent. Not only have the Mad Caddies brought back their amazing horn section, but it's in full swing along with the guitars and other instruments. It's got crowd-pleasers, songs for hardcore fans, and experimental songs to please the critics. You'll be begging for just one more listen after hearing this album, and even those who aren't too fond of ska will find it hard not to like this album. The Mad Caddies have definitely put out one of the best albums of their careers. It's not boring in the least, and is full of jazz and punk. Some albums require being serious while listening to them, but Just One More really shows you a good time, and everything here is mostly upbeat. If you want an album with originality and quality, you can't go wrong with the Mad Caddies this year.
V P is a Contributing Writer. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.