Wednesday, October 23, 2013
The Gadjits Wish We Never Met Hellcat Records 1999
For about two weeks I was into new ska until I realized I really only liked the Specials and the original Jamaican stuff. Despite that two week period, I never enjoyed this band despite their local status. So why did I buy this? I don't know, because it's local, and I was pretty sure I'd never see another copy. I even had a conversation about it with the owner of Zebedee's. I was begging him to pull something from his stacks within the same price point that would blow my mind. A hard to find local album he had buried somewhere. Instead he recommended I pick up the new Blood Birds LP and looking back, he was 100% right.
The band does represent the ultimate in Overland Park, Kansas hip-ness, though. And, despite their attempts to make Overland Park sound cool on the back sleeve, it's still a pretty boring town. There was a legitimate Overland Park teen-scene at the time. There was this band who signed to Hellcat Records which was operated by Tim Armstrong of the band Rancid. They toured extensively as teenagers and were fairly notable in the neo-Ska scene. There was the pre-Anniversary band Nuclear Family that toured with the likes of Goldfinger. Then there was all the Gee Coffee bands (Gee Coffee being an all ages venue that booked teen bands) that were gigging locally and from the Blue Valley area.
Wish We Never Met is what you'd expect from privileged, suburban, white kids that play punk music. Their anger sounds forced. The swearing sounds disingenuous. Their world views are sheltered and childish. The ska is well, new ska. There's been reviews that say the band incorporated jazz, maybe for about 30 seconds they do before they call out "Pick It Up!" and go into a ska chord. It's not any different from the countless other bands that tried to push this genre to the mainstream after the success of the Mighty Mighty BossTones. Rancid was the only decent one of the bunch and they were far more rooted in punk than they were ska.
The three Phillips brothers that formed the band are admittedly a talented bunch. Musically, you can tell that ska was something they enjoyed, they had the technical ability to go beyond it, they just chose not to. Later, they did a 180 with the band and stopped the ska thing. They became a soul/rock/punk hybrid band similar to the Strokes. The first stuff they did in this fashion was released as the Gadjits. Later, they would change their name to the Architects which for a brief time featured Adrianne Verhoven of the Anniversary. They still gig under that name and have far outgrown their teen ska days.
Oddly, the drummer of Radkey is often photoed in his Architects shirt. Which, if I wanted to go conspiracy theory on, I'd have to say the Phillips brothers are the ones feeding Radkey the tunes in one last attempt to hit the big time. Then again, maybe the kid from Radkey actually likes the Architects, I don't know.
Thinkin' About You