One question burns in the minds of a lot of ska fans these days... "Is ska dead?" The answer in my mind is a mix. In secular music, yes. In Christian music, no. But another question must then be asked, "If ska isn't dead, why are all the ska bands straying from ska music?" With the O.C. Supertones new and fourth album, Loud and Clear, the band creates a successful mix of punk, ska-flavored rock, reggae, and popcore. Loud and Clear opens up with a "Supertones Strike Back"-like intro in "Escape from Reason," that leads into a hard-pumping ska-flavored rock tune with rap and hip-hop influences (as well as a tinge of a disco-esque groove riff). "What It Comes To," follows, probably one of the only ska-like tunes on the album. A very catchy song that will have you singing along in no time. "Jury Duty," a song about thanking and praising God even on the bad days, is pop-punk with the occasional horns thrown in. "Lift Me Up" picks up where "Away From You," from the Chase the Sun album, left off. A radio-friendly ska/reggae pop tune, "Lift Me Up" is bound for the same hit-status that it's predecessor achieved.
"Pandora's Box" switches gears with a pop hardcore format. A heavy-driven song about a box of sin being opened at the beginning time that plagues the lives a Christians, "Pandora's Box" will easily be a fan favorite and will be a great addition to their live show. Loud and Clear's overall feel and sound is best described as a cross between Supertones Strike Back and Chase the Sun. More aggressive than Chase the Sun but more produced than Strike Back, Loud... is actually just that... Louder and Clearer. Those disappointed in Chase... will probably find this album a lot more appealing. The message remains as strong as ever in such songs as "Who Could It Be?," "20/20," and many of the others. I, personally, would like to see them experiment more with the sound of "Pandora's Box." The more punk sound that they've acquired is pretty cool. "Spend It with You" is another track that joins "Jury Duty" and "20/20" in that pop-punk genre (yet with a heavier ska influence). The rock or punk with horns seems to work pretty well as it is pretty clear they're fazing out their ska sound.
Clocking in just 1 minute and 45 seconds shy of 50 minutes, Loud and Clear serves up a worthy follow up to such awesome albums as their first and Supertones Strike Back and makes up for last year's relatively disappointing Chase the Sun. Fan of ska, punk, pop/rock, or Supertones, check out Loud and Clear.- Review date: 9/4/00, written by John DiBiase
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