Probably the most fun ska band.
I fell in love with Suburban Legends as soon as I heard their early EP’s, and though that’s still my favorite music they’ve ever done, I’ve appreciated their focus on light, straightforward ska in recent albums.
Led by the likes of Rx Bandits and Streetlight Manifesto, ska has skewed more progressive and boundary-pushing, but Suburban Legends has remained a gauntlet of what I’d call early-nineties-style ska — simpler style, pop song structure.
That’s not to say that Suburban Legends is not without depth or character — that would be totally false. For one, the Legends choreograph dance routines to go with each of their numbers. If you haven’t seen it, it’s tough to imagine how fun this makes it to watch them to perform.
Suburban Legends also has a recurring gig at Disneyland, and, as a result, has learned a bunch of covers of Disney songs. I don’t know about you, but catchy, upbeat ska covers of Disney songs definitely qualifies as a delight as far as I’m concerned. These covers — like Under the Sea — were once limited to live bootlegs, but have been released as studio versions by the band in recent years.
If you’re going to seek out one album by the band, I suggest either the 2001 self-titled EP or the 2006 EP Dance Like Nobody’s Watching. The latter is the most consistent and fun piece the band has ever released, but the former is pretty great and features “I Want More,” which I consider an epochal ska classic.
And of course I have to mention the fantastic “Bright Spring Morning,” notable because the band recorded it first as an upbeat number, and it was one of their best songs. But when their trombonist died in a motorcycle accident, the band released it as a ballad, providing two excellent and vastly different interpretations of a great song.
Their later stuff is fun, too, but the songwriting is a little bit less consistent. Still, at their peak, few bands are as much fun as Suburban Legends.