nonstop to cairo rewrites the book on ska on their debut ‘dabble heavy’ #soundcheck

February 2, 2017

“Ska / punk? Did you send the right link?” That’s what our fearless leader Lou said when I sent him the newest record from Nonstop to Cairo. It’s a not surprising reaction listening to one of the few ska bands to do something really new with the genre in at least a decade. Rapped verses courtesy of August Harris, collide with Nick Diamond’s hooks, while the band lays out fat grooves that tend to look back to the first and second waves of ska and skip right over the third. Alex Turner (formerly of AFROPUNK BOTB Semi-Finalists Echosonic) keeps things heavy and loose, regularly eschewing the boompa beat that’s defined ska for 20 years.

Ska die-hards fear not. There’s still a song with a kinda groanworthy ska pun that’s just good enough to outweigh the name “Influenzska,” and epic horn riffs galore. “Chicken in My Oats” stands out as one of the band’s best. Even their most traditional sounding tracks though, like the the unfairly catchy “Get the Girl,” mix things up just enough to balance a look to the past with feet planted firmly in the future. When the band finds the right balance, as on “July 8th” it’s like nothing else, and totally exhilarating. Make no mistake: Dabble Heavy is the future.

By Nathan Leigh, AFROPUNK contributor