Fishbone's unique blending of ska, punk, reggae, funk and metal has long made them one of America's most innovative and exciting punk bands.
This is a band that has never cared to force out commercially successful pop for the sake of sales, and that passion for simply making music they love has weathered the band well for over 20 years, leading to Still Stuck In Your Throat. This, the band's first recording of new material in six years, is easily one of the best albums you'll hear this year.
New Lineup, Same Sound
Despite the fact that this time around there are only two original members in the lineup (frontman/sax player Angelo Moore and bassist/vocalist Norwood Fisher), this album is classic Fishbone, with all of the mad high-powered ska punk that notation would suggest.
Some of the tracks are destined to become canonical Fishbone classics. "Jack Ass Brigade", which could be the band's new autobiographical theme, and "Skank 'N Go Nutz" which doesn't so much urge you to dance as it commands you to do so, fit in with Fishbone's classic party tunes. I have long lauded the high energy of their live shows since I first caught a set on the patio of the now defunct Club Soda in Kalamazoo, and these tracks are destined to be a solid part of set lists for even more manic, sweaty live shows for years.
The goofy yet political "Party With Saddam" is a plea for peace in an inspired fun way that immediately reminds me of the message, if not the sound, of another Fishbone political classic, 1985's "Party at Ground Zero". Moore and company definitely know how to issue a call to action and a call to fun at the same time.
Other themes abound as well. There are tunes about life on the road ("Frey'd F***in' Nerve Endings" and "Forever Moore") which dwell on the positives and negatives of touring and being away from loved ones, and straight-up hilarity about street fights ("Let Dem Ho's Fight") and snowboarding wipeouts ("Faceplant Scorpion Backpinch") that just continue to showcase Fishbone's collective of stellar musicians who play with astounding tightness.
Still Stuck In Your Throat wraps up with a cover the classic Sublime tune "Date Rape", and in classic Fishbone fashion, take it to the next level, making the tune a bit more frenzied and frantic. It's an excellent tribute and improvement on a band that was often viewed as a Fishbone contemporary.
Moore and Fisher have assembled a great lineup for Fishbone this time around, most notably accented with powerhouse guitar from the legendary Rocky George, whose thrash-heavy riffs carried Suicidal Tendencies for years and work just as well with Fishbone's metal-meets-punk-meets-ska sound.
For a long time, Fishbone were synonymous with the So Cal scene that included the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Jane's Addiction, two other powerhouses spawned in a similar timeframe. Years later, one of those bands is gone and one is no longer doing anything good. It's a testament to their passion that, out of the three, while they haven't seen the commercial success of their comrades, they have neither compromised their sound nor stopped creating music in a style that is distinctive, fun and constantly fresh.