I am a video game fanatic with over six years experience as an online writer.
How is it that every time I use a different computer, and type in the word “ska” in Microsoft Word, I still have to right click the word and press “Add to Dictionary”? Ska is a music genre that has been around for decades, and has been a huge part of the lives of millions of music lovers. If it doesn’t deserve to be in the dictionary, and “omg” does… well, I don’t know what to think. As an ardent ska fan, I present my top 5 ska bands:
5. Less Than Jake
Less Than Jake has been one of the biggest ska punk bands in the past few decades, attracting huge crowds all over the world. Active since 1992, the group is still releasing albums and EP’s. One reason the band is successful is their awesome vocal dynamic, having two lead singers. The guitarist, Chris Demakes, has a scratchy punk voice, and is joined with the smooth and high-note-hitting bassist, Roger Manganelli. Fast paced and melodic, this band has combined the best of pop-punk with some iconic horn sections (Gainesville Rock City, anyone?).
Favorite Album: Hello Rockview (1998)
4. Big D and the Kids Table
Probably the most versatile band on this list, not many other ska punk bands have songs that are so fun to sing along to. From the high energy “Noise Complaint” (which, even if you don’t know the words in the beginning, will make you heartily sing along by the end) to the smooth “Shining On”, Big D and the Kids Table flawlessly combines punk roots with reggae tones. David McWane, the lead singer, has one of the most unique and striking voices in ska, which sets this band apart from a lot of other ska punk groups. Big D and the Kids Table has also attempted many “out-of-the-box” musical directions, releasing some songs with soul and jazz influences.
Favorite Album: Strictly Rude (2007)
Sublime did the unthinkable – it brought ska to the mainstream. With hits like “Santeria” and “What I Got” being played all over radio stations across the United States, ska received an unparalleled amount of attention. Since only a couple of Sublime’s singles broke out, a lot of people have never heard their more rugged punk side, ranging from songs like “Saw Red (with Gwen Stefani)” and “Ebin”. It grew with a lot of great ska bands (like No Doubt), and spurred even more (like Pepper), having wide reaches of influence on many branches of rock music. Due to Bradley Nowell’s untimely death in 1996, Sublime disbanded after just 3 albums, but has since re-grouped with a new singer.
Favorite Album: 40 Oz. to Freedom (1992)
2. Mustard Plug
Mustard Plug is one of the most underrated ska bands in the history of the genre. Since 1991, this band has graced ska punk with more and more great songs, from their first big single, “Mr. Smiley (1993)” to “On and On (2007)”. You can’t even differentiate a lot of their newer songs with their old music, which is a great thing – “you don’t fix what ain’t broke”. They’re also the master of upbeat songs with largely dark undertones, singing about some pretty unconventional topics. With catchy choruses and some of my favorite horn riffs, Mustard Plug no doubt deserved more attention than they were given.
Favorite Album: Pray for Mojo (1999)
1. Streetlight Manifesto
No other band has come close to Streetlight Manifesto in regularly putting out significantly powerful and expressive albums. Since his roots in Catch 22, Tom Kalnoky, the lead singer and guitarist of the band, has written a wide array of songs while never straying too far from his roots. Streetlight’s music consistently makes you want to sprint into a mosh pit while keeping a relatable quality that makes you think about your life. The pure punk energy (Giving Up, Giving In) comes through Tom’s gritty voice and his equally gritty guitar, while facilitated by an ensemble of horns who have displayed an unparalleled sense of creativity (especially in the most recent album – Somewhere in the Between). And it doesn’t hurt that their live sets can be some of the most intimate and tremendous shows you’ve ever seen.
Favorite Album: Keasbey Nights (2006)
Sleepingtil3pm on October 25, 2018:
Not one of those bands is ska punk.
martiner on December 04, 2013:
the best skapunk band is OPERATION IVY !!!
Eden on November 09, 2013:
ah i love streetlight manifesto, probable one of the best bands of all time, my favorite album is 'somewhere in the between'
Jeremy Bushnell from Tacoma, WA on July 04, 2013:
Less than jake is one of my favorite ska bands. Don't listen to the genre much anymore but that band is still one I listen too. Glad they made the list.
Pablo on March 08, 2013:
I Like SKA a lot and all I know about it comes from Punk Bands as Rancid.
I'll give it a shot in these albuns but the sublime one I got already.
Thanks for the list.
dylan on October 01, 2012:
Thisis invalidated without op ivy...
Ashley Bergin from san francisco on August 21, 2012:
Great list! So happy to see bands like Big D and Streetlight on here. Have seen them both live…AMAZING!! One of the best ska bands I would add to the list is The Bastard Suns. Its kinda like Flogging Molly and Big D had a baby..and shot out The Bastard Suns. Sweet mix of punk, irish, and ska – super fun music. They are coming to Sacramento in October and I can’t wait to see them!!
Hazzabanana8 from Southern Realms of England on July 17, 2012:
Awesome list. Have you ever heard of a band called [spunge] ? They might be of interest to you.
princesswithapen on November 19, 2011:
This has been an interesting read. Now I am curious to find out more about Ska music and the artists that you've mentioned in this hub.
marriedwithdebt from Illinois on November 18, 2011:
Great article. I have seen Less Than Jake many times, and saw Catch 22 in Kansas City. Keasbey Nights is a great album from start to finish.