Album: Matamoska! – Matamoska!

Nine. I didn’t know it before, but apparently the perfect number of songs to put on an album is 9. This album came out on May 17th and I haven’t stopped listening yet. It’s just a great album, every song fits together perfectly, it not only flows perfectly from start to finish, but if you listen to the album on loop, the last song fits perfectly back into the start of the album. This is just an incredibly well constructed album that leaves you both satisfied, and willing to listen to more in a way I can’t explain.

Matamoska! has been around since 2001 in the East LA local ska scene originally playing what they called ghetto ska punk, but the band has grown and evolved significantly over the last 23 years. While the band was particularly active between 2010 and 2017, this self-titled EP is their first album in 7 years, and being put out on Bad Time Records, it may prove to be their most successful release to date. With the album release syncing up with Ska Punk International’s SPI Fest 2 in Connecticut, the band headed across the country and was one of the biggest highlights at an incredible festival.

Matamoska! uses this first album in 7 years to highlight their diversity of sounds and style, mostly laid back lyrics that don’t take themselves too seriously, and the band highlights their bilingual nature singing about as many songs in Spanish as English. While Matamoska! has several singles and fan favorites from previous albums, I feel like this album, as a whole, is by far their best work, feeling completely fresh and fun and is likely to completely dominate their set lists for years to come.

The album begins with a track Titled “Flan” that begins with deep growled lyrics and a fast hardcore/ punk beat before dropping into an upbeat ska guitar riff and catchy Spanish vocals. My disclaimer here is that I am not remotely bilingual and am incapable of translating the lyrics. However, that doesn’t make me appreciate the song any less, and, in fact, this is one of my favorite tracks on the album. The bridge in “Flan” feels perfect for shifting the expectations and pacing and really prepares you for the musical diversity on the rest of the album, while allowing the three and a half minute track to feel fresh through the entire song.

The second track is “Lone Star” and begins with a horse neighing- and I am expecting some form of comedic track. Instead we get an instrumental track that shows off some of the musical diversity and talents of everyone in the band. I’m a little torn on how I feel about instrumental tracks on albums. Generally it has to be a good track that wouldn’t be improved with vocals, and it can’t be filler. This clearly meets both requirements. In a little under 3 minutes it gets the job done, and sounds good, and it’s musically distinct from the rest of the album, but not thematically adrift.

Following this is one of the three pre-release singles in “That’s What She Said”. Fearing “The Office” humor, this song avoids the pitfalls and is an absolute banger. It’s definitely not my favorite track on the album, but it is the best earworm. Long after the album ends I can feel myself humming “lemme, lemme, lemme go, that’s what she said”. The feature vocal by Jessica Jeansonne in the gang vocals and with a pair of “Go Fuck Yourself”s are perfectly placed. Finishing in under 2 minutes, the fun doesn’t wear out its welcome and you’re left wanting more…

…and more is immediately delivered with “Ska Show”. Another pre-release single and party ska show, with gang vocals, catchy horn riffs, and catchy sing-along vocals over a simple ska riff, and great keys that build through the track. This song features some of the best horn solos on the album. In addition to the great party vibes, they throw in some “fuck the pigs” lyrics which will win me over in 100% of songs. This song feels like its just celebrating live backyard house party shows, and I love it.

“Problema Sin Solucion” is an extremely fast paced, turn it up to 11 and keep cranking on both volume and pace, Spanish language ska song that makes you question everything. Again, it fits perfectly, but I don’t know how. It is nothing like the other songs, and yet it couldn’t belong anywhere else.

And somehow it leads into the slowing song on the album in “Acid Trip”. It feels like a trippy, James Bond, 1970s ska and new wave blend that features amazing keyboards, a phenomenal performance from Catbite’s Brittany Luna alone on vocals. Perhaps this song isn’t ska, but that definitely doesn’t matter. It’s a great song and it absolutely belongs here.

Typically I try to not discuss every song on an album and I’ve discussed each of the first 6 tracks. I like to leave plenty for the listener to enjoy, so I’m not going to talk about the final 3, but let me tell you that I haven’t even got to my favorite track on the album yet. The is zero falling off for the final three tracks. This might not be my absolute favorite album of the year so far, but it is going on my full time rotation of music to listen to. I can listen to the album on repeat, or just mix every single song from this album into my playlist and be happy- and I’ve already done that. I’ve been fortunate to see Matamoska! live a few times, and I look forward to more live shows with these tracks added into the set list. 

Written by Gimpleg