For those who didn’t know, ska is not as dead as you might think. After all in the last year or so, Five Iron Frenzy managed to raise close to a billion dollars for their reunion album on Kickstarter and websites like Indie Vision Music have manage to put together a couple of compilation albums featuring a number of current ska bands. Thumper Punk records has now released the debut album from the New Jersey ska band No Lost Cause.
Formed in 2010 in Tom’s River, New Jersey, No Lost Cause was created according to the band’s Facebook page “to bring hope to the listeners while putting out some music you might be able to tap your foot or nod your head to.” Ska certainly has the potential to do just that, and NLC is certainly filled with catchy hooks. For those who only know ska through the O.C. Supertones and similar bands, you will find similar song structure and sounds that are familiar, but with one difference in that No Lost Cause is a three-piece band without a horn section.
“Anywhere but Here” kicks off the ep with a good bass intro that jumps right into some melodic punk guitar riffing. This is where the mix seems to get a bit off as the guitar seems to dominate a bit too much, but in general, I like the guitar tone, so this isn’t a very big deal. The song continues in the punk vein through the end, which might make one wonder about the ska label. “The One Who Rescues” starts off with some drums that sound like they could have come off an old Motley Crue album or maybe Queen’s “We Will Rock You” and then some pop punk guitar joins the sound briefly until the song abruptly transitions into a familiar ska upbeat that continues through the verses of the song that are linked by the heavier full distortion guitar fueled choruses. This is a formula for quite a few of the O.C. Supertones songs and throughout this album I found myself thinking parts were straight from some Supertones’ songs. Initially, I was thinking this may just be something with ska as a genre in general, but after going back and listening to the Insyderz, Squad 5-0, O.C. Supertones, FIF, Send out Scuds, and Skamikaze, I don’t see the same similarity between those bands, that I do between songs on NLC and songs from some of those bands, so I think this is worth mention. As this is a debut ep, I would attribute this to a new band trying to find their niche and I imagine this will fade over time as the band defines their interpretation of the genre and sound.
“No Weapon” is likely the heaviest song on the ep and is straight ahead punk rock from the beginning and all the way through. With some driving guitar and drums, gang vocal shouted chorus, “No weapon formed shall prosper” and a breakdown like section often found often in hardcore songs, this track is certainly different from the rest. While not exactly fitting in well with the rest of songs, this is something one would expect from a ska/punk band, so it works here. It’s almost as if they took the heavy parts from all the songs and just compressed them into one while excluding the ska upbeats.
Vocals are well done and from a style standpoint, do remind me of Mike Morginsky’s from the O.C. Supertones, which may also play a role in my impression of the similarities between the bands. I do feel they might be a bit too controlled or restrained for the genre, but again, that is likely just my personal bias coming through. As one who knows Thumper Punk Records bands, lyrics demonstrate a positive, Christ-centered message. From “The One Who Rescues”…” You’re the hand that’s reaching out
How could I forget about The One who rescues I’m gonna refocus on You.”
Overall, this is a fun ep that reminds me of summer and how much I used to listen to ska/punk. While fans of the genre may find themselves thinking they’ve heard some of this before, there is still a lot to like here and I look forward to hearing more from No Lost Cause.
1. Anywhere But Here
2. The One Who Rescues
3. Fight Alone
4. Paid For
5. No Weapon
6. My Strength
7. Fight Alone (acoustic)
Rob Jensen – Guitar and vocals
Rob Marino – Bass
Dan Jensen – Drums
Record Label: Thumper Punk Records, June 2013