Title: SKA DREAM
Artist: Jeff Rosenstock
Label: Polyvinyl
Genre: Ska / Punk
Released: 20 April 2021

Tracklist

1. NO TIME TO SKANK
2. Airwalks (Alt)
3. SKrAm!
4. S K A D R E A M
5. Horn Line
6. p i c k i t u p
7. Leave It In The Ska
8. The Rudie of Breathing
9. Old SKrAp
10. ***SKA
11. Monday At Back To The Beach
12. Checkerboard Ashtray
13. Ohio Porkpie

JEFF ROSENSTOCK

SKA DREAM

"Don't you wanna run? Don't you wanna go dumb?
Smack a politician up the backside of their cranium
Throw the racists in a rocket blast they ass into the sun
Mega guillotine, we 'bout to redistribute income"

I have no words that could possibly describe how happy I was to wake up on 4/20 to the sight of the notification ‘New Album release: Jeff Rosenstock – S K A D R E A M’ on my phone. Jeff had posted a photo of the album cover on April 1st, and I, like many others, fairly assumed that it was nothing more than a joke. A vision of a perfect reality that could not exist. A dream. But as it turns out, “SKA DREAM” is real. And despite everything that has happened in the last year, everything is now right in the world.

This is a complete reworking of Rosenstock’s 2020 album, “NO DREAM”, to the tune of pure ska goodness. And for people who have been fans of Jeff’s work since his days with The Arrogant Son’s Of Bitches and Bomb The Music Industry, this will most likely be love at first sight. Since his origins in the ska-punk scene, Jeff has slowly shifted into a more traditional blend of punk, with his latest solo albums giving only slight hints into his ska-heritage, in songs such as ‘Rainbow’, off of “WORRY”. But it seems like my prayers for more ska were heard, and on that beautiful 4/20 morning, “SKA DREAM” was born. Every song here has been rerecorded from the ground up, and at times even completely recomposed, to transform themselves into the miracle that we have today. With all jokes aside, it’s genuinely impressive; the amount of love and care that was put into this project is clear. This is a genre that Rosenstock has obviously missed dearly since he drifted apart from it, and this is a really great tribute to it.

And the best part of “SKA DREAM”, is that it wasn’t simply thrown together as a cheap gag. In fact, at times throughout the album, I actually find myself enjoying the reimagined renditions more than their original counterparts. And that is seriously saying a lot, for someone who listened to “NO DREAM” so religiously throughout 2020. Although every single track has a hilariously awful ska pun in its title, as well as being littered with plenty of tongue-and-cheek moments thrown in, via ad-libs or lyrical changes, this has just as much merit as a Jeff Rosenstock project as any one of his other albums. It’s put together so unbelievably well, that I was genuinely taken aback when I first listened to it. Looking at the cover and each of the song names, I was fully prepared to listen to a terrible, but hilarious remix of his last album. But I’d be lying if I said that I hadn’t listened to this almost as much as I listened to the original when it came out last year.

I won’t give an in-depth review of every track here, since I already reviewed “NO DREAM” when it came out last year. I will mention some notable skaifications that made for particularly great moments on this project. The opening track, transforming the panicked, frenzied ‘NO TIME’, into the endlessly fun and groovy ‘NO TIME TO SKANK’, instantly demonstrates just how quality the reimagined tracks are on “SKA DREAM”. This continues into ‘Airwalks (Alt), and from there to ‘SKrAm!’, which is the first case in which I think the ska version of the track actually manages to outshine its predecessor. Including an entirely new verse, and a fantastic vocal performance from Jeff, this reaches insane levels of enjoyability, which are only heightened in the following titular track. I thought ‘NO DREAM’ was explosive when it came out last year, but ‘SKA DREAM’ completely blows it out of the water in comparison. Apart from the track potentially being more enjoyable due to the fun genre-swap gimmick of the album, this track has a superior performance from Jeff himself, with the ending being one of the craziest things he’s recorded in years. It’s just so unbelievably fun.

Another highlight includes the reggae-rendition of ‘The Beauty of Breathing’, titled ‘The Rudie of Breathing’, which slows the record down to its most relaxing moment. The slowness of the song actually brings new meaning to the original lyrics, too. Its themes of crippling social anxiety and fear, which were previously accompanied by a fairly busy instrumental, are now paired with a relaxing and vibey reggae tune. This is most likely done as a joke; making the most anxious track on the record sound purposefully the calmest. But in a weird way, it works incredibly well.

If you loved “NO DREAM” when it came out last year, and are a big ska fan, then this album is going to be like an angel sent down from heaven for you. But if you fit into neither of those categories, I’d still recommend giving this a go. I was originally planning on writing a really quick joke review for this, that just embraced it as a really funny meme. And while it absolutely is that, it’s also a genuinely great record, and an extremely fun time. I’m now itching for ska reimaginations of “WORRY”, “We Cool?”, “POST-“, and “I look like shit”, after seeing just how well this project was done. And if they never get made, it’ll be a genuine tragedy. Like it already is for many people, 4/20 is now my second Christmas, and without getting my hopes up, I really hope Santa continues to deliver Jeff Rosenstock ska projects on that day every year.

"Sometimes I wanna take the car out on the road
Flip it into park and smash myself
Into a million little pieces"

Reviewed By Layton Bryce - 24/05/2021
SKA/10
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Comments

tamara

23/7/21, 9:43 am

such a wonderful, passionate review 🤍

tamara :))

15/7/21, 8:01 am

so proud of u, such a great and succinct review xo

tamara

15/7/21, 7:57 am

incredible review!!!

tamara!

9/7/21, 11:54 am

what an incredible review!! one of my favourites of the year 🥰💓

tamara

5/7/21, 2:29 am

another wonderful review!!! x

tamara

3/7/21, 7:03 am

another great review from my favourite music reviewer🤍🤍🤍

Lindsay

3/7/21, 6:48 am

YEEESSSS I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on My Love Is Cool, one of my faves album EVER

Taylah

3/7/21, 6:46 am

One day I'm gonna have to listen to all these albums because of all these great reviews! Can't wait for a Hamilton or Frozen review...??? 👀👀👀 Maybe a cheeky Bo Burnham review????

Taylah

1/7/21, 6:42 am

YES!!! COMMENTS AND BACK!!!! HOW DID THIS SMART MAN DO IT???!!!

tamara😳

1/7/21, 6:40 am

yay!! comments are back!! love this review, and you!🤍