Pietasters Awesome Mix Tape #6

You may find Awesome Mix Tape #6, the latest effort from the Pietasters in the ska section of your record store, but the Pietasters are much more than just a ska band. The Pietasters have a plethora of different influences, ranging from two-tone ska, to jazz, funk, soul, reggae and punk rock. Vocalist Steve Jackson attributes the variety of sounds on the album to listening to old Specials records. “You’d pick up a record and find that there were six covers on it. Then you’d buy those records. You’d start exploring the subcultures and looking for their origins, trying to find the authentic stuff.” One of the band’s biggest influences is Bad Manners and it shows on Mix Tape, particularly on mid-tempo tracks such as “Spiderview.” The Bad Manners comparisons are strongest when listening to the Pietasters’ horn section. Don’t expect 14 “Special Brew” sound-alikes, though. The Bad Manners influence is just one of many. The Pietasters tend to put the most energy into their drinking songs. The high-speed third wave anthem “Wasted,” is this album’s “Maggie Mae.” In the same vein is “Somebody,” which picks up the tempo even more, and ends up sounding like Let’s Go-era Rancid. (The Pietasters’ label, Hellcat Records is co-owned by Rancid singer Tim Armstrong.) “Chooch’s Bitch,” another fast-paced song is an attempt at surf-rock, which falls a little short, but is catchy nonetheless. One of the best things about Mix Tape is that there’s no way to predict the next song. The Pietasters don’t seem to follow any type of formula, and fast songs are followed by smooth reggae (the sublime “Can’t Stand It”), wah-wah heavy funk-soul (“Yesterday’s Over”), and experiments in dub (“Dub-Fi Superdeformed Mix”). Awesome Mix Tape #6 is a must for all Pietasters fans, ska aficionados and lovers of good music everywhere. It also serves as a good introduction for those who are new to the band’s musical hodge-podge. (Hellcat)