Before there was a California mod/ska band called The Uptones there was already a ska/reggae band from Arizona called The Uptones who released a four-song 7" in 1982 which was featured on Tone and Wave in 2011 HERE. Although they only released that one record they did record several more songs in the studio which were not released until 2015. Their 24-track cd is available on the Original Uptones' official site.
Since I'm on the subject of early 80s bands from Arizona, some of you may remember THIS POST I did of the band The Effects who also released a 7" and an LP by the same name "Video Game" which was a great example of 80s new wave ska:
It's All Pink that contained a few ska songs and then, in the nineties, Shadrach Powell released a couple albums with his band Kongo Shock.
As far as I know these two Effects albums have not been re-released but the Effects (or, at least, core members) reunited and released new music in 2015 and have played shows with the also-reunited Kongo Shock. The Effects new album Feels So Good contains 8 tracks: 3 are re-recordings of songs from the Video Game album and one is a re-recording of the song "That's Whatcha Get for Trying" from the Neurotic Love album. As far as I know you're hearing the other four songs for the first time.
Another band that has made their old material available is the British reggae band from Bath the Rhythmites who released their only album Integration in 1989. Integration has been hard to find over the years and I myself don't own a copy. We, the good ska people of the world, were fortunate enough to have this album posted on a blog several years back and that is the only version of this album I have heard until now. I can say with confidence that I have all of their other releases and I may post them some day but now it's important to support this release.
The Canadian band Roots Roundup formed in 1985 and released several independent releases including two albums on cassette, and they put out a 16-track "greatest hits" compilation in 1997 called "Rootrospective" which sold out quickly and has become a collectors' item itself. Rootsrospective has been re-released in 2015 and is available in limited quantities HERE.
If I have to answer the question "What's your favorite ska album of 2015?" I would feel pressured into saying something like Mephiskapheles or Rhoda Dakar but there were a lot of great releases in 2015 that I preferred over these ones.
If you saw my post for my picks for 2014 I mentioned that I wanted to include The Pisdicables EP but I thought their stuff didn't really fit in with the other songs. Now I say their stuff fits in perfectly. I love ska. I love punk. I see where "ska-punk" has become a sound unto itself and it doesn't really represent ska or punk. To balance the two in the shadow of 'third wave' has become a challenge for bands. Very few can pull it off even for a song or two. Can you imagine a band that perfectly balances ska and punk without become the dreaded ska-punk? Now imagine that they pull it off, not only in a song or two, but in every song in their repertoire.
This is my favorite ska album of 2015.
The Pisdicables - Will We Never Learn?
The Pisdicables put out my favorite album in 2015 but my favorite songs came from these bands:
Chainska Brassika - Bad Habits
Chainska Brassika will be putting out their first album in 2016.
The Kubricks - Ghosts
The Kubricks released an expanded version of their Wasters and Wannabes EP in 2015 which includes their two singles from 2015 Ghosts and Rave with the Rebel plus an unreleased song called Lead Me Away featuring soul singer Sharlene Hector available on CD Baby.
Heavyball released their first album Black Eye Diaries which had tracks from their previous releases including a new song (not ska) called Unhappy Now
The album is available on iTunes and Amazon UK
Heavyball - Smalltown Boy
The New York dub-pop band Heavensbee featuring members of Bigger Thomas and Rude Boy George released their first album Soul Mates
Another band I heard this past year that I really liked was a California ska punk-band called The Ironies:
I threw together a bunch of songs I listened to in 2015 (that were released in 2015). Some of them I have already mentioned, most I haven't.
Chainska Brassika - Bad Habits
Andy Keys Clark - The Rude Boy From Another Dimension
Dub Righters - Rude Boi
Dutch Ska Express - All Aboard
Inter City Crazy Train - High Life/Low Life
Land of the Giants - Crazy Lady
Lucky Luxury - I Need You
On Your Marx - Voila
Roots Roundup - Sea of Sound
Saloon Soldiers - Sir Williams
Sketchie - For Better or Worse
The Foamers - Oblivion Generation
The Salad Circus - You Won't Pin Me Down
The Suppressors - Jump Up Girl
The Defekters - War Games
Copacetics - Same Mistakes
Pisdicables - Never Learn
Skasouls - Not to Blame
Bigtopp - King of the Hill
Dollface - A Leaf
Guess What - Jacobin Clash
Kubricks - Ghosts
Lexicons - Call and Reply
Newmatics - YoGetUp
Pacha Mamma - Don't Bring Yourself Down
Rude King - Home Wrecker
Spred the Dub - So Sad
The Hacklers - Get Out
The New Riddim - Caroline
The Strike - War Zone
Uppertones - Closer to the Bone
Download Part 1
Download Part 2