Opening up with the song "One Time," that title is not indicative of how many times you'd ever want to listen to the Spitvalves' album. Instead, each of the 14 tracks on Fine Print on the Bottom are infectious, yet unique in their own manner. While the Spitvalves could be lumped into a ska-core genre, upon careful listen you can tell their influences are varied among such things as hip-hop, jazz, and metal, yet its still the perfect blend for the ska enthusiast.
Showcasing Spitvalves tunes old and new, you get a full range of their musicality. Yet while the tunes were created over several smaller releases, the lyrical style is distinct and keeps this album unified. When vocalist Charlie Bender boasts he can "kick your ass at Scrabble" on "No Fiction," he's giving you an accurate depiction of the unorthodox vocabulary contained within all the Spitvalves songs, yet Bender incorporates this with traditional slang, and even quickly switches to Spanish, that multilingual bastard. What the lyrics also display is the Spitvalves' pride in their hometown roots--Orlando, Florida--and the fact that they are a tight knit group of individuals (in "One Time:" "Rollin with the spitcrew/ they always got my back/ don't try to attack").
The Spitvalves also show they are a tight knit group of musicians. Trumpeter Ricky San Jose gets to display his ability on many trumpet solos, and the entire horn section is effective whether accompanying the guitar chords or deviating with their own melody, sometimes in the same song, no less.
The Spitvalves songs are fun in that they are some great tunes that you can really tear up the dance floor to. Plus, a lot of songs on Fine Print on the Bottom have anthem potential, and not just in the instrumental aspect, but with the rallying lyrics, as evidenced in "No Fiction" (No fiction/ no fiction for you/ no fiction/ we keep it true), and in "SSDD" (I don't care what you think/ I don't care what you say/ I don't care if you like me/ I'm still gonna do it my own way.)
Fine Print at the Bottom has an album cover design that simply shows the band's instruments; there's no flashy graphic or nifty cartoon or whatnot. Perhaps the Spitvalves choice of album cover design, with the simple pictures of their instruments, is indicative of what is most important to them--their music. Yet equally important to the Spitvalves are their fans, as the last song, "Mr Man," is a testament of. Pointing out how those under 21 are charged more for concert entry, the Spitvalves remind the concert-owner figure "Mr. Man" that the young fans "don't care what the special is/ keep that in mind...Is that the price they must pay/ to have their fun today?" These lyrics sum up the special bond the Spitvalves have with their fans.
Its quite easy to become a fan of the Spitvalves. Their album Fine Print at the Bottom is a treasure to listen to, and their live set is just as great. The Spitvalves are booked on several Warped Tour 2000 dates and are planning an east coast tour, so make a point to attend a show. Not only will you get to experience a fine musical performance, but the gentlemen in the band are easy on the eyes as well.
Catherine Galioto is a contributing writer. Contact her at msmatildarockzone.com.