Local Wire

The Toasters

Remember way back (like, to the early '90s), when suddenly, almost out of nowhere, you heard a ska song on the radio? You inevitably thought to yourself, "What the fuck? Ska hasn't been popular in the U.S. for ages!" Shortly thereafter, you found yourself practicing "skankin'" in your apartment when no one else was around. Did you ever think, "Who is responsible for this resurgence? Who put the Caribbean feel back into this music? And for the love of everything holy, who made playing the trumpet cool again?" The answer: The Toasters. If you've never heard them, they may remind you of bands like No Doubt, but it's actually the other way around. These New Yorkers have been on the scene since 1981 and bill themselves as the "longest-running U.S. ska band." Instrumentally, they get much closer to original Jamaican ska than the more mainstream, big-band sounds of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. While you're listening to newer music, it sounds oddly retro. And while it's ska, you can easily fool yourself into thinking that you're listening to a remastered pop album from the '60s, with an added horn section, the then-futuristic sound of a surf rock guitar, and slightly updated punky lyrics.
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Sarah Ventre