The Screw Ups are a six piece band from Connecticut and Massachusetts who describe themselves as a Ska / Reggae / Punk band. If this makes you think you might be in for something along the lines of The Clash though you’re in for a surprise as The Screw Ups are a lot more ‘Ska’ and less ‘Punk’ than that iconic band. Having said that though their new EP, lovingly titled ‘EP’, is actually a nice little affair with six very pleasing tracks – and best of all you can grab it for free via their Bandcamp (or, of course, drop em a few $’s if you so choose – something we’d recommend).
The EP opens with Watch Yourself, a cracking Ska tune, very much in the vein of The Specials or Selector. It steams along with a catchy chorus and a perfect saxophone solo & it’s nice to hear a modern-day American band doing something very un-American – and doing it well. Once upon a time in the 80s this would have been a hit single & indeed it should be now too.
The Screw Ups have been together since High School and have developed a good, solid, tight sound. On My Way is probably more Northern Soul / Pop than anything – it’s a tried and tested formula that works well. Produced by dNash together with band members Julian Wahlberg and Nico Bonvini, they’ve done a sterling job, and there can’t really be any complaints on this front.
There’s a great opportunity for some very decent dub mixes of Lie Awake. A reggae tune with great bass, guitar and hi-hats it would have been a monster of a track with a few dub effects thrown in. As it is, it’s a decent enough track with huge potential which the band might want to revisit in the future.
The Screw Ups have clearly been very influenced by English Ska and there’s more than a passing resemblance to The Beat in their sound. Vocally one’s reminded of UB40’s Campbell brothers & vocally No Truth also hints of the great Joe Jackson.
Overall, they have a good sound which could win them plenty of fans. I’d imagine they’re pretty good on the live circuit too and they could do a lot worse than getting themselves over to the UK and playing some support slots to established Ska / Reggae acts.
Ones to watch!
All words by Paul Scott-Bates. More of Paul’s writing on Louder Than War can be found here. Paul’s website is hiapop Blog. Paul has been working hard to save Radio Lancashire’s On The Wire, easily one of the best radio shows on the BBC. Follow him on twitter as @saveonthewire for all On The Wire news or follow his personal twitter, @hiapop.