Posted in: September 2007

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Continuing on with my trend of vaguely Reel Big Fish-related bands that don’t really play ska at all, I bring you Scott Klopfenstein’s side project. Being a current and prominent RBF member, perhaps his connection is less ‘vague’ and more ‘pretty damn concrete’ but the musical style on here is nothing like his other band.

Soaring vocals! Heartfelt lyrics! Bangin’ pianos! All kinds of instrumentation! Their one full-length, Better Book Ends is glorious from start to finish. One disreputable Internet source describes their style as ‘piano-bar’, and I’m inclined to agree, though that’s not nearly encompassing enough. As usual, some of the best music is also the least classifiable.


From Better Book Ends
Happened Again – (MP3, 5.8 MB)
Always Sayin’ – (MP3, 8.3 MB)
Stayed Away Too Long – (MP3, 5.2 MB)
Sunshine – (MP3, 5.9 MB)

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While the Dougster is renowned for bringing you the latest in the world of ska and gyspy and all manner of weird bands you’ve never heard of before, and Hugh is renowned for bringing you a good general mix of stuff you’ve probably never heard of before, I’ve always brought up the rear with stuff you’ve heard before, you know of, or you’ve heard to death. And this post is 100% without exception.

Remember how I was talking about that late night radio station that got me hooked on Wax Tailor? Well, it also got me hooked on Nikka Costa, a charming lady who plays some groovetastic R&B. I’ll have to say, today’s stream of R&B (mainstream wise) was something I generally avoided like the plague, so it was nice to hear some decent R&B for once.

Fans of Arrested Development (rippin’ show that one) should already be familiar with at least one Nikka Costa song: Everybody Got Their Something was featured pretty heavily on it. Anyhoo, Nikka plays a good mix of funky R&B and soul in a really sophisticated way. Well, sophisticated is the wrong word. Basically, it’s not trashy, like so much mainstream music is these days. There’s some really sweet tracks too, such as Push and Pull which would definitely have to be my favourite on the Everybody Got Their Something album. She also has an incredible vocal range: it goes from damn low to ear piercingly high (in a good way, honest).

This is a really sucky post and I can’t find any media for her, short of her MySpace page. So if you know how to navigate that contraption of a website, then please be my guest!

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I have yet to find a way to purchase any of their recordings, so needless to say I downloaded the tracks instead. Not to be confused with the similarly named Suburban Legends I wrote about earlier, these crazy dudes from California were only around a short while in the 90’s, but they put out some ridiculously good music before succumbing to inner-band squabbles.

Commonly associated with the 3rd wave ska scene (most people would know their name from Reel Big Fish’s song S.R.), they really aren’t a ska band, as even their ska numbers deviate quite a bit from the usual standards. They aren’t heavy on horns at all, and they make inspired use of their guitars to blend in funk, rock, punk, and even a little country. It is hard to really pin them down to one style, but with them that’s a good thing.

Plus, they’ve got some interesting lyrics, like in the ludicrously cathartic 99 Degrees: “I’m feeling 99 degrees, and I don’t mean Fahrenheit! It’s Celsius, you oaf! When I hear your wicked words, they choke me up until I’m blue, just like the rope I’d use if I was gonna strangle you!”. Fortunately, they are not nearly as angry on their other songs, and are able to effortlessly phase between serious (Coming Out of the Woodwork) and goofy topics (Gameshow, “Pat Sajak is a saviour, he always has a vowel for sale!”). A shame they were so short lived!

Since you’d probably have a hell of a time finding their recordings, I’ll be going a little overboard with links on this one.


From Suburban Rhythm
Lust – (MP3, 4.9 MB)
Coming Out of the Woodwork – (MP3, 5.4 MB)
My Sister Sam – (MP3, 4.6 MB)
Gameshow – (MP3, 3.8 MB)
99 Degrees – (MP3, 4.5 MB)
Tension – (MP3, 6.8 MB)

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If you’re a fan of Christian ska (a surprisingly large sub-genre!), then you are probably well familiar with Five Iron Frenzy. Hell, if you just like good music in general, you may have come across them. And if you’re even slightly enamoured with Reese Roper’s ridiculously fun song writing, you would likely be interested in his other bands. There’s a few, but Brave Saint Saturn is definitely the best of them, having actually released two full-lengths.

There’s no ska at all, or even horns. Instead, we get bells, guitars, and some synthesizers, to create a sort of space-rock to go with the running theme of space travel – they use it to draw parallels between the loneliness of space and the loneliness of trying to find yourself. Quite a bit more serious than FIF, they manage to strike a lot of chords, both figuratively and literally (haha, worst sentence I’ve ever written on here!).

They also are a lot less subtle about their Christian leanings than FIF, which might put some folks off. Regardless! There are some excellent tunes, and you don’t have to be a Christian to appreciate the messages they send.


From The Light of Things Hoped For
Enamel – (MP3, 3.3 MB)
The Sun Also Rises – (MP3, 3.0 MB)
Heart Still Beats – (MP3, 4.2 MB)

From So Far From Home
Two-Twenty-Nine – (MP3, 8.2 MB)

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We love the classics here at either/or. While the term classic is certainly a most ambigious one, I generally classify it as stuff written or released before I was born (pretty sure my comrade in crime, Hugh, disagrees). Anyhoo, since we love the classics, we’ve decided that we’ll be taking time out once a month to bring you up to speed on some of those great old, well-known (and maybe not so well-known) classic artists of yesteryear, and what better artist to kick it all off than the legendary George Harrison.

Most of you are probably aware of ol George-y boy. If not, shame! While he was most famous for his role in The Beatles (and yeah, they’ll be here one month), his solo work was his chance to come out and shine, and boy did he shine bright. Having contributed songs like Here Comes the Sun with The Beatles, he revealed a wonderful flair for great tunes. From My Sweet Lord to What Is Life?, he garnered a pretty huge fanbase until his untimely (and sad) death.

In my opinion, he played a well evolved version of The Beatles music, particularly in their later days, but he didn’t shy away from some good old fashioned country twang either.

And so we pay our respects to Mr. Harrison!

I know what you’re all thinking: either/or is really scraping for some content. Perhaps yes, but hey, these are some of the origins of today’s music peeps! Embrace it!