I have to apologize. When I first published the Jury Voting Results for Album Of The Year 2014, I missed out on one voting. It had come all the way from Indonesia from our friend DJ Yasser and had been lost in the depths of my email account. And as things turned out, his voting gave a new direction to the whole thing. I’m sorry for the mistake.
But the good thing is:
We have a winner now. The only record that received votes from four different jurors and 10 points in the process is:
Brooklyn Attractors, “Good Evil Alchemy.” (Whatevski Records, Jump Up Records)
Congratulations for Album Of Year 2014 – jury’s choice!
Have a look at the complete top 10 that resulted from the jury votes:
1. Brooklyn Attractors – Good Evil Alchemy (Whatevski Records, Jump Up Records) 10 points
2. Skaos – More Fire (Pork Pie Records) 7 points
2. The Talks – Commoners, Peers, Drunks & Thieves (All Our Own Records) 7 points
4. Alpheus – Good Prevails (Liquidator Music) 6 points
4. Buster Shuffle – Naked (People Like You Records) 6 points
6. Ed Rome – Snapshot (self) 5 points
6. El Bosso & Die Ping Pongs (Pork Pie Records) 5 points
6. The Upsessions – Shake It! (Grover Records) 5 points
9. The Aggrotones -10 Reggae Shots (Interrogator Records, Insurgence Records and Publishing) 4 points
9. The Busters – Supersonic Eskalator (Revolution Ska) 4 points
About the voting
We asked experts and enthusiasts from different places to give us their three favourite albums of the year, to accompany our public Album Of The Year poll. We received 18 answers from podcasters, authors, festival organizers.
Thanks a ton to Isaac Miranda, Kaptin Barrett, Oscar Serrano, Peter Clemm, Valérie Desnoyers, Charles Benoit, Matthias Häußer, Paul Williams, Jörg Folta, Oliver Will, Sascha Lichtenstein, Der Dude Goes Ska, Florian Weinknecht, Keisuke, Daiki Spy, Jacob Peterson, Tilmann Ziegenhain and Mochammad Yasser.
They complied to the rule that they would not vote for an album that they were directly involved with. We went through the answers and attributed three points to each juror’s No 1, two points to the No 2, one point to album No 3.
The bottom line
Even after a winner has been found, the impression remains that a whole bunch of absolutely brilliant records were released in 2014, but none received a far wider recognition than some others. Buster Shuffle, The Upsessions, The Talks, Ed Rome, Brooklyn Attractors, Alpheus, Skaos, The Busters, Rhoda Dakar, The Dualers: so many great albums, and the list goes on. And of course the winner of the public voting, the compilation Specialized III – Mad Not Cancer.”
You want to share your own top 3? We’d love to read it in the comment section below.
Read on what podcasters, journalists, organizers and top fans sent in as their answers, some with detailed comments showing their love for ska music. We like to thank them all for their time and words.
[one_half]1. The Talks – Commoners, Peers, Drunks & Thieves
2. Skamanians – Ride Again
3. The Brooklyn Attractors – Good Evil Alchemy
[one_half_last]Charles Benoit. Described by friends as “way, way too obsessed with ska,” Charles Benoit is a novelist who plays tenor sax for Some Ska Band in Rochester, New York. Incriminating details and paparazzi-quality photos at charlesbenoit.com. He is also a regular contributor to Reggae Steady Ska, sharing interviews with Melbourne Ska Orchestra, Monty Alexander and his report after visiting the 2Tone museum in Coventry.[/one_half_last]
The Talks took their A-game to a whole new level with this release, their best to date and, in my opinion, the best, most-danceable album of the year. I put this album on and I can’t stop smiling.
The Skamanians album was a magnificent balance of a Skatalite sound and 2014 energy. They’re a new band to me but with this album they’ve won a new and loyal fan.
Given the line-up, it would be impossible for The Brooklyn Attractors to not create a brilliant album. Good Evil Alchemy shows what happens when world-class musicians hang out and play. Truly epic.
I also have about 80 honorable mentions. The submissions this year were outstanding and picking a top 3 was an impossible task – ask me tomorrow for my top 3 and I might give 3 totally different bands. A few bands had amazing releases that unfortunately didn’t meet the 20-minute requirement (I’m looking at you, Barefoot Basement, and you, too, Smiley & The Underclass) and I couldn’t find Ksandy Industry’s album anywhere (I heard a few singles and loved ’em, so if you know where to find the album send me word, I want to buy a copy). Georgetown Orbits would be my #4 (and in the morning I might say #1). Or maybe Rude Boy George. Or The Interrupters. Or The Dualers. Or Ed Rome. Or Roy & Yvonne. Or Giant Panda Guerrilla Dub Squad. Or Skariginals. You get the idea. It was a tough year to be on the jury, but a great, great year for ska.
1. The Brooklyn Attractors – Good Evil Alchemy
2. The Planet Smashers – Mixed Messages
3. The Interrupters – The Interrupters
Valerie Desnoyers is the founder and artistic director of the Montreal Ska Festival and Montreal Ska Society. Established in 2008, the MSS is a major part of the Canadian ska scene, working hands in hands with everybody involved close and far (aka: the Victoria Ska Fest, Stomp Records, etc) to promote shows locally as well as nationally with major tour bookings. She is as well a facilitator and booker for out-of-town and international ska bands wanting to play in Montreal. A long-time ska fan, Valerie attends close to 200 live concerts every year, tours constantly with bands and travels hundred of miles to go see music shows.
When I stopped and started to reflect on 2014 releases, I wasn’t even close to thinking this many good records came out during the year. The choice was way harder than I had imagined. I would’ve loved to do a ’10 best’ therefore I had to cut a couple albums that well deserved to be in there as well. I have made my decision upon how much these 3 albums had brought me that’s why I’ve chosen them. These 3 albums are jewels.
[one_half]1. Transilvanians – Echo, Vibes & Fire
2. Atsushi And The Moisties – [same]
3. Los Elefantes – Grandes Exitos De Otros[/one_half]
[one_half_last]Isaac Miranda a.k.a Padrino Ska from Mexico. I have been a Ska fan since I was twelve years old in 1994. Member and founder of SKA RUDE CLUB where we share and spread the music (Ska, Rocksteady & Reggae) anywhere in the world, since 2013.[/one_half_last]
To name the first three was quite easy for me this year. But then again, it would have also been easy to name ten other albums on the list that are really good.”
[one_half]1. Clinton Fearon – Goodness
2. Hoffmaestro – Hoffmaestro
3. Hollie Cook – Twice[/one_half]
[one_half_last]Kaptin Barrett: DJ and Head Of Music Programming for BoomTown Fair, a crazy pop up city which currently has the UK’s biggest Ska and Reggae line up amongst its other stages.[/one_half_last]
1. Clinton Fearon – Goodness. Clinton is like a fine wine, just gets better with age. This album resonates deep in my soul, absolutely first class.
2. Hoffmaestro – Hoffmaestro. So good to see this great album finally getting a proper release outside of Sweden, one of the best live bands around right now too.
3. Hollie Cook – Twice. There were so many great skanking albums in the selection this year but as it’s Winter and i’m in deep hibernation mode, I had to go with this album that makes me feel relaxed and warm inside everytime it plays. Plus she smashed it with us this year.
1. Buster Shuffle – Naked
2. The Upsessions – Shake It!
3. Split: The Dualers/The Snails „Back To Paradise“, „Songs From The Hydrogen Jukebox …“
[one_half_last]Jörg Folta ist one of the organizers of various ska festivals (This Is Ska, Ruhrpott Ska Explosion, Berlin City Ska and more) and runs the Beatclub Dessau and the Felsenkeller, Leipzig.[/one_half_last]
1. Buster Shuffle – Naked: Buster Shuffle are still my no 1, because they managed to add something truly new to the ska genre, i.e. to be innovative in a field where reproduction of the always same is the order of the day.
2. The Upsessions – Shake It!: The Upsessions solve the above-mentioned problem by not taking themselves seriously and presenting reggae with loads of irony and humor. This is why they are my european favorites when it comes to traditional ska styles, alongside The Granadians (Spain).
3. is split: The Dualers „Back To Paradise“ and The Snails „Songs From The Hydrogen Jukebox Vol. 1 & 2.“ Solid, fluffy, beautiful.
[one_half]1. Buster Shuffle – Naked
2. Alpheus – Good Prevails
3. Le Grand Miercoles – Ghost Cowboys[/one_half]
[one_half_last]Peter Clemm is organizer of Freedom Sounds Festival Cologne and a long-time and prolific contributor to Reggae Steady Ska.[/one_half_last]
1: If you like me love well-crafted pop songs, then there’s no way around Buster Shuffle’s third album; 2. Alpheus and his producer Robert Sanchez have created another modern classic, a Rocksteady album with a really positive vibe. 3. Ghost Cowboys is my party album of the year. Even if it sounds impossible in theory, a wholly organic mixture of Reggae, Surf and Western sounds.
[one_half]1. Deals Gone Bad- Heartbreaks and Shadows
2. Alpheus – Good Prevails
3. Yellow Cap – Pleasure[/one_half]
Jacob Peterson has been listening to ska music since 1996 and tries to catch any show that he can. He enjoys doing full album reviews and sharing ska-related news on his website ska-boom.com
[To pick the top 3…] … was extremely difficult due to not only the vast diversity of musical styles within the ska/rocksteady genre, but also because of the large number of high quality albums put out this year. It was fairly easy to whittle the list of over 100 titles to about 20 top picks, but then things became really difficult. While there were many albums I truly enjoyed this year, the main criteria that I used to determine by top 3 was the “re-playability factor.” In other words, which of these albums would I want to not only play over and over again upon initial listen, but also, would want to listen to months down the road. Yellow Cap creates a very enjoyable, danceable breed of ska with their “in your face” brass section and prominent organs. On the opposite end of the spectrum comes my number two pick; “Good Prevails” by Alpheus. Prior to this review, I was unfamiliar with Alpheus, but I was pleasantly surprised by this release. While not “hard-hitting” or blaring with horns, each song is crafted nicely with each instrument complimenting the others. The vocals are smooth and soulful and add the extra special magic to this album. I like this album a lot! Finally there is “Heartbreaks and Shadows” by Deals Gone Bad. While DGB has been a band for many years, they really kicked things up a notch by having Todd Hembrook at the helm. This album is full of enough variety, while keeping the soulful-ska sound they are known for. Every song on this release is a winner and makes you want to hit the dance floor.
1. The Rifffs – Can’t Stop The People
2. The Busters – Supersonic Eskalator
3. The Interrupters – The Interrupters
Oscar Serrano and his brother (PpSka R.I.P.) were the founders and creators of Radioskandalo, the long-running Ska broadcast from Mexico. It’s the pioneer radio show in Mexico city and probably one of the oldest from Latin America. The show is known to have introduced almost all of the ska legends tunes to Mexico. He has continued broadcasting the show after the death of his brother who was the original broadcaster and who has been considered one of the most influential promoters of ska music in Mexico. Oscar is staying on course and tries to record the show in monthly podcast episodes. This year the show will be celebrating its 18th anniversary.
1. The Rifffs – Can’t Stop The People: Such a perfect job on this album from start to finish. It all begins with a delicious rocksteady and finishes combining all the energy and power of 2tone sounds.
2. The Busters – Supersonic Eskalator: After 5 years they return totally reinvented: Mixing the best of their past and present. “Supersonic Eskalator” reflects this.
3. The Interrupters – The Interrupters: All the strength of SKA and punk, a great debut album that wouldn’t let you stand on your feet without moving them. Plus it was produced by the great Tim Armstrong, so what else could you ask for? And Oscar even gave his Top 10:
4. The Planet Smashers – Mixed Messages: The eighth studio album from the Canadians. Highly recommended from start to finish. Two-Tone, punk, new wave,etc. full of freshness and good humor.
5. Dr. Ring Ding & Kingston Rudieska – SKA ‘n’ Seoul: The mixture of Jamaican sounds and the particular style of German and South Korean ones are present in this well managed EP. 5 tracks where the Asian guys are accompanied by the legendary Dr. Ring-Ding.
6. Rude Boy George – Confessions: Great debut album! Reggae and SKA versions to tribute eighties sounds. From XTC, INXS, to the great versions of Eurythmics and Billy Idol.
7. Mad Not Cancer – Specialized 3: 74 tracks of Madness revisited for a great cause helping the Teenage Cancer Trust. Such a great compilation without any doubt.
8. El Bosso & Die Ping Pongs – Hier Und Jetzt Oder Nie: 12 tracks shining on this comeback album for El Bosso, containing Third Wave, new wave and traditional Jamaican sounds for all of our enjoyment.
9. Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra – Ska Me Forever: That pleasant style of Tokyo Ska music. It gets you on a journey through different genres, making their versions of tracks from different tunes that they had probably been influenced by. From Frankie Valli to Beethoven and spreading beyond its borders to some more Asian music including three Japanese Rock bands plus a nice nod to the Mexican culture even on the album cover art and of course their “Cielito Lindo” version to a traditional Mexican song.
10. Skaos – More Fire
[one_half]1. Brooklyn Attractors – Good Evil Alchemy
2. The Senior Allstars – Verbalized and Dubbed / Barefoot Basement – Storyteller
3. Los Aggrotones – 10 Reggae Shots[/one_half]
[one_half_last]Oliver Will, is the founder and chief-editor of Rocking Steady Ska & Reggae E-Zine and head of Rocking Steady Music – label (Rocking Records/Jamaican Jazz Records), with some great releases in 2014, among them the album “Storyteller” by Barefoot Basement from Austria. Rocking Steady works as a booking agency for Ska/Reggae/World/Jazz/Rock`n`Roll & more, too.[/one_half_last]
The mix of ska and jazz is one of my favourite passions. There is some great stuff out there, but the actual and debute album of the Brooklyn Attractors is definitely my favourite with its very own quality in songwriting, arrangements and most of all incredible soloing. great artists in a great band did a wonderful record. The senior allstars found a unique sound of high quality within the last few years. To enrich it with voices was a fabulous idea. I love this record. While 10 reggae shots of los aggrotones is such a great reminiscence to the great old early reggae tradition. Great instrumentals coupled with some collaborations with great original singers like pat kelly or derrick harriott – fantastic.
1. The Talks – Commoners, Peers,Drunks & Thieves
2. Ed Rome – Snapshot
3. Rude Boy George – Confessions
Paul Williams – Founder of Specialized charitable music project/ Author of The Specials biography / Admin of Specials 2 fansite / The Skapones lead singer
1. Commoners, Peers,Drunks & Thieves – The Talks: These guys for me, are the real deal. Never written a bad song ever. This album sees them moving forwards in great strides. Full of sharp content with homage to varying ska styles. They remind me of The Specials a lot. Great tunes, angry socially aware lyrics, great imagery and an explosive live performance. The best band in the UK.
2. Ed Rome – Snapshot: Ed Rome is just a very talented guy full stop. Another man with a host of releases since The Big that are top knotch quality and his work with us on Specialized releases are always stand out tracks. Snapshot shows what Ed is capable of in abundance. Inch perfect playing, inch perfect tracks and a distinctive cracking vocal – The arrangements are superior. Love it.
3. Confessions – Rude Boy George: These guys from the USA were on Specialized 3 and what a version of “Driving In My Car”. I love this album because it covers no bread and butter staple ska/reggae tunes but good old 80s classics like you’ve not heard them before and some have top production. Its just something different done very well.
Der Dude Goes Ska
1. DiscoBalls – Dance Like Nobody´s Watching
2. Skaos – More Fire
3. Yellow Cap – Pleasure[/one_half]
[one_half_last]Der Dude Goes Ska has been listening to ska for 32 years. He has been writing for various magazines and runs his own ska site at www.derdude-goes-ska.de (with some guest authors). His goals as a promoter and mentor are to offer upcoming ska bands a platform and to support the local scene. On February 6, 2015, Der Dude Goes Ska will celebrate his 15th anniversary with three live acts and five djs at the Sonic Ballroom, Cologne, Germany.[/one_half_last]
1. DiscoBalls – Dance Like Nobody´s Watching. Because they play a fresh mix of ska, punk and more. I’m fascinated by the terrific and professional joy of playing that can be felt in every song. The highly recognizable voice reminds me of the young Gwen Stefani. The title speaks for itself: “Dance Like Nobody’s Watching”.
2. Skaos – More Fire: A beautiful sign of life from the south of Germany, after nine quiet years. Respect for that and for the fact that none of the band’s music pleasure has been lost in the mean time. „A haunting mix of predominantly fast offbeat, noisy rock and swinging pop. What began in the bassist’s dark cellar in Krumbach in 1982, is being continued consequently today.“
3. Yellow Cap – Pleasure: What I like about them are the constancy and the social commitment („Schön Daneben“). „With their fifth album, which consists of 12 songs and two bonus tracks, the band delivers a small, consistent piece, that offers little and big surprises every now and then.“ A very good, authentic album, with loads of content, which has to be appreciated.
quotes from: www.derdude-goes-ska.de and www.dynamite-magazine.de
1. Los Aggrotones – 10 Reggae Shots
2. Roger Rivas & the Brothers Of Reggae – Last Goodbye
3. Roy & Yvonne – Moving On
Florian Weinknecht has been a fan of The Aggrolites since their first European tour (2004). As a devoted Ska and Reggae fan for the last 17 years he likes to travel around to join every ska and reggae event in the world and support the music everywhere he can.
1. Los Aggrotones – 10 Reggae Shots: This is one of the best surprise albums from Argentina in 2014. Very groovy tunes and songs which get under your skin.
2. Roger Rivas & the Brothers Of Reggae – Last Goodbye: One brilliant instrumental masterpiece of the famous Aggrolites keyboard player, who also has got Mexican roots.
3. Roy & Yvonne – Moving On: A great comeback album of this legendary duet of the ska era. Nice switching solo tracks of Roy and Yvonne.
1. Ed Rome – Snapshot
2. Crazy Baldhead – Boots Embraces
3. Rhoda Dakar – Sings The Bodysnatchers
Matthias Häußer, host of the Stuttgart-based radio show File Under Ska, running since 2003. (File Under Ska on facebook)
1. Ed Rome – Snapshot: Ed Rome creates great melodies and a unique sound that makes it hard to compare him with other bands.
2. Crazy Baldhead – Boots Embraces: I like Agent Jay’s work even more than the Slackers’. And I always enjoy his intelligent and witty Facebook comments.
3. Rhoda Dakar – Sings The Bodysnatchers: Rhoda’s voice is great, and the songs, played by her all-star band, beam you back into the early 80ies.
1. Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad – Steady
2. El Bosso & Die Ping Pongs – Hier Und Jetzt Oder Nie
3. Barefoot Basement – Storyteller
1. Skaos – More Fire
2. The Busters – Supersonic Eskalator
3. Jah On Slide – Never Knocked Out
Keisuke is the frontman of the Japanese ska band Skaff-Links and organizer of Maximum Ska Festival in Tokyo, Japan.
Comment: So many great albums, it is difficult to choose the top 3!! Best regards from Japan!
1. El Bosso & die Ping Pongs
2. Die Tornados – Young Guns Against Old Rockers
3. The Talks – Commoners, Peers, Drunks & Thieves
Daiki plays trumpet and sings in his band Spymaker. He also organises the open-air Nagoya Ska Festival.
1. The Upsessions – Shake It!
2. Skaos: More Fire
3. Roger Rivas: Last Goodbye
Tilmann Ziegenhain is chief editor at DYNAMITE magazine (Germany), specialized in Rockabilly, Psychobilly, Country, Soul and Ska
1. Brooklyn Attractors – Good Evil Alchemy
2. Alpheus – Good Prevails
3. Alaska Q – Berteman Kata
Mochammad Yasser has been a long time fan of ska/reggae since 1996, and contributor to some fanzines with articles and reviews about bands, releases and scenes. Always loves correspondence with fellow ska/reggae fans all over the world, to exchange news, info and ideas about what’s happening in global ska/reggae scene. Also a dj/toaster at various events and an avid collector.[/one_half_last]
Well it’s quite difficult for me to narrow down my favorite choices as I think there are so many great releases this year, from well-established bands to the debutantes, it’s great thing to see that world wide ska/reggae scene still going strong to this day and these releases prove that, so many new names that I just found out and that’s what keep me interested, especially with them comes so many rich new flavors, influences and ideas to this already tasteful music.
As for Reggae Steady Ska, I feel so honored to be a part of the jury board and participating in the global ska/reggae community, it means also a previlege and labor of love, may the 2015 gives us more and more great music aas well as new and promising acts.
Keep The Sounds Alive,