That’s My Jam is a feature where one person from the Selective Hearing staff goes to wax poetic about music that is pivotal to their musical tastes. Whether that would be an album, a song, or anything in-between. We all had to start somewhere.

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Release Date: June 25th, 2008

Track Listing:

1. OPENING~Welcome to the ORANGE ROCK FES~
2. BELIEVE ME
3. Oh!Yes!
4. Sky Walker
5. Ready to Go
6. Shangri La
7. Last Summer
8. Sky blue beach
9. fantasy
10. Merry Go Round
11. Sky blue beach
12. SUPER SUMMER DAY!
13. sorrowful town
14. Boku Dake no Sherry
15. We will
16. ROCK YOU
17. Count down
18. Bomb! Bang! Yeah!
19. roaring sound
20. Punk Song
21. Big dream
22. USA
23. YOU & ME

Review:

Since the early days of American 3rd wave ska in the mid-1990s, I’ve been a huge fan. The way 3rd wave mixed loud rock/punk energy and sensibilities with the charming, vibrant and groovy style of ska and reggae was like the perfect marriage of musical styles that I had grown to love all working harmoniously together with each other.

Bands like Reel Big Fish, Goldfinger, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and many others paved the way for this style to reach the American mainstream by the late 90s, leading the way for many other bands who would have likely gone relatively unheard for the rest of their existence if these other bands had not gained the recognition they received.

Around the very late 90s, Japan also started to catch onto the bug of 3rd wave ska, which is not hard to fathom at all, since the vibrant, happy horns and cheerful melodies that permeated this ska style were very close to a lot of Japanese pop and idol music already, so it seemed not much more than a matter of slight adaptation that Japan have it’s own movement of 3rd wave ska bands.

One of the earlier bands in this movement was Yum! Yum! Orange, forming in 1999 and still performing today. In the early 2000s, I came across some of their music online and really liked what they were doing, their sound had so many of the elements I liked from American ska, but with an even slightly more cheerful and playful sound to most of it, so naturally, I kept tabs on their career and checked in occasionally whenever there was new material.

While their early material was pretty enjoyable already, you could feel the band was getting so much better at their craft as time went on. The songwriting got more diverse and complex, the tightness of their playing got better, the production on the albums got stronger, and Kumi’s vocals showed drastic improvements with time, among many other things.

When their 2008 album ORANGE ROCK FES 33 hit, it felt like a culmination and apex of everything they had been working towards. The album has 12 songs total, and there’s not a dull one in the whole running time. Eleven of the songs on the track list are just short joke interlude tracks where the same musical motif is played in different styles each time, about 5 seconds each, but even at 12, that’s a high number of songs to have rock as hard as they do in one album.

This album had all the right amounts of all the right elements to make one of the best 3rd wave ska records of all time, to my ears, up there with Reel Big Fish’s “Why Do They Rock So Hard?” which I consider to be pretty much the best that 3rd wave ska has to offer.

This album has great horn melodies in the lead tracks, very heavy rock and punk elements in otherwise happy ska-pop songs, gorgeous and cute vocal melodies/backup harmonies from Kumi pulled off with expertise, soaring and energetic jazzy basslines consistently carrying the main rhythm, a huge variety in the percussion department, and an overall diversity in the songwriting where you’ll never get that “more of the same” feeling from the album, as many albums that stay within one genre often do.

None of the production ever sounds dry or lacking, and it keeps a very full and well-balanced sound throughout the running time, where even some of their later albums didn’t have this much consistency and didn’t perfect this aspect as well as ROCK FES 33.

It has just about everything you could ask for from this style all in one, and I hadn’t heard a 3rd wave ska record this wholly great since the early 2000s, so this was on repeat listens in my car for months at a time, and still holds up just as well today.

It’s really hard to pick highlights since so much of this album is legitimately great, but some of the biggest successes are songs like BELIEVE ME, Shangri La, Sweet my lover, Merry Go Round, ROCK YOU, Bomb! Bang! Yeah!, and Punk Song, a few of which you can hear below. If you get a chance, try to track down the whole album, and if you’re a fan of poppy 3rd wave ska, you definitely won’t be disappointed.