Local Wire

Sweater Club

The lifeblood of ska has always been struggle and adversity of some sort. Songs like Desmond Dekker's "007 (Shanty Town)" and Dandy Livingstone's "A Message to You Rudy" embody the hardships of unemployed Rude Boy youths of 1960s Jamaica turning to a life of crime to survive, while The Specials' "Ghost Town" documents how the destructive racial clashes in 1970s England nearly destroyed its music scene. The emo-filled ska music of Sweater Club -- a six-member outfit from Oregon -- illustrates a different set of difficulties: the angst-filled melodramatic existence of the twentysomething male. The band's sound is an energetic dichotomy of an upbeat and authoritative horn section backing up the lyrical bellyaching of guitarist/vocalist Matt Jager, who grouses about how "nothing seems to go my way" and about finding his place in the world. "In a world where all I feel is pain/Everything goes numb/It's a red velvet curtain set against a burning sun," sings Jager in "Savor Every Sorrow." Whine on, white boy.
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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.