Sunday, August 6, 2017

Duff Review: Pama International "Love and Austerity"

Heavyweight LP, CD, digital download (the album is also being released as a series of four singles via Record Kicks)
Happy People Records
2017

(Review by Steve Shafer)

I've been listening to Pama International's ninth album for weeks now, ruminating about whether or not this is a political concept record of sorts (read on to find out!). However, during that time, what's never been in question is the sheer excellence of all of the ska-reggae-soul songs contained on Pama International's Love and Austerity. The LP is anchored by two incredible covers that kick off each side: Martha and the Vandellas' "Heatwave" and John Holt's "Man Next Door." The former could be read as a metaphor for climate change, while the latter might be interpreted as being about societal breakdown ("I've got to get away from here/This is not a place for me to stay/I've got to take my family/And find a quiet place"). Even the one catchy instrumental on the album is named "Gasoline" (the literal fuel of our planet's destruction and a prime example of humankind's extreme folly). To this mix, add their original "Austerity Skank," which tries to shake off the gray of the punishing Cameron--and now Theresa May/Brexit--years through PMA: "Hard times have come/Now, hard times be gone/No more illusions/System delusions/Our hard times are done...I'm stepping out to a better place/Tired of all of the lies getting in the way/I just want to be free/With no austerity..."

Even most of the lush love songs on this album (with the exception of "Skies Are Blue"--for now!) are filled with friction, dysfunction, and entropy. Life is passing by a man sleepwalking through his relationship in "Wake Up" ("We spend hours/Worrying about the business/Just to go and miss the sunset...Wake up, my darling/For you are the reason why/I celebrate life every time you smile"). Another couple is on the verge of breaking up in "I Cried Until I Stopped"--she's heartbroken over what must happen (but even her tears have limits)--though by the end of the song she defiantly sings that she'll "never stop loving you." The last track on the LP is a soulful cover of John Loudermilk's 1962 tune "Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye," which on its face is hopeful about a couple's future together, but can't quite push away the reality that not everything lasts ("Kiss me each morning for a million years/Hold me each evening by your side/Tell me you'll love me for a million years/Then if it don't work out/Then if it don't work out/Then you can tell me goodbye").

On Love and Austerity, Pama International's lyrics may be downbeat, but the exquisite music and wonderful performances pack a staggering emotional wollop. This is the music to help get you through the rough days that most likely lay ahead...

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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Duff Guide to Ska NYC Summer/Fall 2017 Ska Calendar #50

The incomparable Rico.
Wednesday, August 2, 2017 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Brown Rice Family

Madison Square Park
Between Fifth and Madison Avenues, 23rd and 26th Streets
Manhattan, NY
Free!

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Thursday, August 3, 2017 @ 7:00 pm

Descendents, Mephiskapheles, Audacity

House of Vans
25 Franklin Street
Brooklyn, NY
RSVP at HouseOfVans.com

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Wednesday, August 9, 2017 @ 7:30 pm

The Selecter, Rude Boy George, The Pandemics

Knitting Factory Brooklyn
361 Metropolitan Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
$30 in advance/$35 day of show
All ages!

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Sunday, August 13, 2017 @ 7:00 pm

King Yellowman and the Sagittarius Band

B.B. King's
237 West 42nd Street
New York, NY
$22.50 (and up)

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Saturday, August 19, 2017 @ 8:00 pm

DJ Gorilla presents Dubistry, Aqua Cherry, PrinceLionSound, Subtropico Militia Heavy Sound

Pista
96-11 Roosevelt Avenue
Queens, NY
$10/all ages

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Wednesday, August 30, 2017 @ 8:00 pm

Fishbone

The Harbor Lights Yacht
Departs from: East 23rd Street and the FDR Drive
New York, NY
$39/21+

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Monday, September 4, 2017 @ 1:00 pm

Escarioka

Riis Park Beach Bazaar
16702 Rockaway Beach Boulevard
Rockaway Park, Queens
Free!

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Friday, September 8, 2017 @ 6:30 pm

Pilfers 20th Anniversary

The Well
272 Meserole Street
Brooklyn, NY

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Tuesday, October 3, 2017 @ 9:00 pm

Black Uhuru

B.B. King's
237 West 42nd Street
New York, NY
$25 in advance/$30 day of show
All ages!

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Saturday, October 14, 2017 @ 8:00 pm

DJ Gorilla Fest 2 with Beat Brigade, Skarroñeros, Raise the Kicks, Rebushchaos

Pista
96-11 Roosevelt Avenue
Queens, NY
$10/all ages

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