There’s something devilishly enticing about SKATERS. They’re the stranger in the corner of the bar a girl’s friends would tell her to avoid, yet she keep finding excuses to go to the bathroom just to pass by him. Such is the band’s allure.
The New Yorkers’ debut album, Manhattan, kicks off with “One of Us,” a track that invites listeners to come out, catch a flick, and get stoned. It’s all just fun and games. “London Calling”-like guitar riffs pull you into the enticing journey of the album as a whole, and the slow buildup of the introduction is a wild contrast to the climactic, upbeat mood of the rest of the song.
“Miss Teen Massachusetts” has quite possibly the best introduction I’ve heard this year; the simple rock strum is so subtle you’ll have no idea it’s burrowing its way into your head until you’re dying to hear it days later. Even after listening to Manhattan as a whole for a few weeks, I didn’t peg this as my favorite song on the album until I first watched its music video, during which I experienced an unexpected level of comfort at hearing that damn-catchy intro riff. At only the second track on the album, I also feel credit is overdue for the full percussion that gives SKATERS the sound of a band that is far beyond their debut LP.
With a plethora of music coming through my inbox, I’ve always taken pride in calling and championing bands before they get huge. I think it’s something the LAmb staff as a whole has mastered, but I am also the first to admit that I am the worst at calling which single radio stations will blast in support of a release.
“Deadbolt” seems to be the one here, and appropriately so as it’s a perfect blend of the band’s darker, brooding instrumental breakdowns but paired with an upbeat chorus and vocals. Think back to that stranger in the bar, leading you in anticipation down a hallway into a secret club. You’re excited, nervous, and taking a risk, but it’s all worth it with this song.
“Band Breaker” brings in a little reggae; think Cops Reloaded intro reggae (i.e., the best kind) with a little chaotic background dialogue and even some talk about being on the run. “To Be Young” is the second ode to the band’s home (the first being the album title, Manhattan), and it is devoted to the joys of youth in New York City. “Schemers” highlights the start-stop percussion that inspires that kind of dancing that goes beyond the dance floor and would even be suitable for some solo car jam sessions. Not that I would know firsthand, of course. (Oh, who am I kidding? I live in LA. Most of my day is spent in traffic. and “Schemers” had gotten me through some serious rush-hour meltdowns.)
“Symptomatic” is another testament to SKATERS’ ability to write undeniably infectious riffs, while Michael Ian Cummings’ (MIC’s) songwriting and vocals carry true talent and skill well beyond his years. Storylines aren’t diluted with overly complex twists and turns. The band doesn’t rely on anything beyond their instrumental abilities and party-friendly anthems, and with this transparent approach, they’ll win a most genuine audience.
“Fear of the Knife” brings back those reggae-influenced heavy bass lines and drums while diving into “clipboard faces” and operations. And just like that they move from surgery to party mode with “I Wanna Dance.” I must give due credit to the song as the reason I learned about SKATERS. There’s a revolving spotlight on each musician throughout Manhattan, and this track allows bassist Dan Burke to really lead listeners into the song. “Nice Hat” gets rowdy and chaotic, with noisy guitars celebrating punk in true fashion with feedback and thrashing breakdowns.
“This Much I Care” completes the album and is the conclusion to my thesis that this band can write intros better than anyone else out there. The song is a candid love letter that holds nothing back with the unabashed disclaimer that they want nothing more in a relationship than your money. That’s cool, SKATERS. I appreciate your honesty, and if you keep playing me your music, you can have whatever is left over from the student loan companies.
SKATERS are equipped with everything they need to be one of 2014’s most successful bands. They’re hip, edgy, and can rock the hell out of a snapback hat, not to mention they are immensely talented and Manhattan is the perfect exhibition of that talent. It is perfectly — I mean, perfectly — mixed and arranged with each track floating into the next and neighboring tracks going hand-in-hand with each other. While you can enjoy the album on shuffle, the record’s range and variety throughout its whole is enough to keep people engaged without getting ever bored. Make sure to pre-order Manhattan now in anticipation of its February 25th release and pick up tickets to see SKATERS at The Satellite on March 19th.
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