The Slackers - Self Medication
Record Label: Indication Records
Release Date: April 29, 2008
Rocksteady is more than just a villain from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (look it up), and although its an endangered species on the genre web, there are still some practitioners of this long lost art. Sure, you may only remember the 90’s ska boom through artifacts like Mighty Mighty Bosstones placement in Pizza Hut ads (or if you are a slightly more awesome person, Less Than Jake’s “I’m a Dude” contribution to the movie Good Burger), but good enough songs are capable of escaping the time and genre limitations and stigmas that the casual music listener may associate with them.
The point is, it wasn’t only Sublime who came off of their high looking great: the Slackers (whose name means almost the exact opposite of Sublime coincidently) still pack the same punch they did ten years ago, and Self Medication is proof that some groups actually did play ska because they liked ska – not because it was the thing to do (*cough* Goldfinger *cough*).
After all the glorification I just dished for sticking to their style, I ought to clarify that this record is not simply a rehash of older songs (any more than any reggae song is pretty much any other reggae song in a different order). Self Medication finds the dudes moving into related but separate territory such as dub (“Estranged”), modern soul, a la Dr. Dog (“Don’t You Want a Man?”), and even reverb-soaked rockabilly a la... Elvis, perhaps (“Don’t Have To”)? The movement is fluid and seamless, and because of the variety the album doesn’t grow tiresome like a lot of other reggae-based albums do.
The dub moments recall the Clash – the Clash who wrote “Guns of Brixton,” not the radio Clash – and they could totally work as self-medication to fight stress. Just turn up the bass and chill out at some really cool party, that’s the cure. However, the 'self-medication' that the title implies is not the healing power of music but rather, as you may have guessed, “whiskey and weed.” You might find the cliché in a reggae love song dedicated to mind-altering substances, but I saw it as a positive. The group sound so authentically reggae – not New York or 1990’s based – that they can make lyrics like that work for them.
Actually, the lyrics are a whole lot of fun. “Every Day is Sunday” kicks off the album with a self-depreciating look at either laziness or the economy, whoever you want to blame: “Every day is Sunday when you’re unemployed, and Friday never comes.” What better Slackers anthem could there be than an ode to not working! It’s a great sing-along start to a great sing-along album.