Ska has seen quite a revival as of late, though not in the sort of way that one might imagine aficionados of the genre would be warm towards. In the world of ‘any press is good press’, though, bands professing their adoration for the 80s-era wonder-sound might just embrace the sea of ska-centric memes washing over the internet today. To say that’s the only significant development the genre has had in the last forty years seems a bit unkind, and to its credit, many of those who made the grade back in the day have launched comebacks that aren’t much to shake a stick over even if they aren’t exactly setting the world on fire.
The real wonder, though, is in those who take inspiration from the likes of The Specials, Bad Manners, or, like, the thirty times they inexplicably played ‘Santeria’ at their high school prom. Poor man’s snark aside, Umbrella Bed are a genuinely good two-tone ska band who’ve been turning out albums under everyone’s noses for some time now. Released on Black Butcher around this time last month, Umbrella Bed’s Rotate is another eight-track masterpiece from these criminally underrated gems that is well worth the listen—legit ska fan or otherwise.
Of course, if you’re a true ska aficionado, there are some issues you may take with a band like Umbrella Bed. ‘Americans – in our genre?’ There’s an argument to be had there, although one must remember the basis of the ska movement being founded out of the likes of its fathers’ appreciation of R&B. What’s left here is genuine two-tone antics produced in the modern age, and not quite as a novelty when Umbrella Bed has been doing it across five albums and honing in their craft to such a degree. You’ll find the usual ska themes here, too, highlighting antiquated social constructs and a whole lotta love.
For those who never did appreciate ska, there’s not much you’re going to find here. But for the open-minded ska newcomer or veteran alike, there’s a lot to enjoy. Arguably, it’s a genre that deserves more than it’s getting in our contemporary age. To their credit, Umbrella Bed are doing what they can to give it that fair shake.