I’m listening to ska again, and once again it’s due to Matt Maloney, drummer of the Allstonians. During the late ‘90s, when everything was ska (if you took ska to be No Doubt, checkers, and skanking), Matt not only hosted a ska show on the local Portland, Maine college radio, but also DJed once a month on Thursday at a club called Zootz (RIP). His presentation of ska (Jamaican ska, dub, dancehall, and a little bluebeat) was so unpopular that the club would bring swank couches onto the dance floor so the ten people there could be comfortable. Before that he put out a zine called Stay Rude (the radio show and club night went by the same name). He was dedicated and passionate about the music that he considered ska, but he didn’t just talk the talk, he knew his shit. I never listened to the Allstonians before Matt joined them, but Bottoms Up!, their first release in (I think) about six years, is strongly impressive. They are true to the sound of their early influences. The Allstonians make it easy to see how difficult it is to master ska, as so many fall far below, which is probably why I’ve barely gone near my ska records in years. It all comes down to two things – their accuracy and their proficiency. Thanks to the Allstonians, not only have I been playing their album, but Desmond Dekker, The Skatalites, and Justin Hinds have found their way back to the turntable as well. Matt, I owe you a beer the next time I’m back east.
–megan (Fork In Hand)