Growing up in the late seventies / early eighties as I did, I hit the punk / Two Tone movement square on. Being from the ‘good’ side of the tracks, my friends and I naturally gravitated towards the ska revival movement of Two Tone for several reasons: it was happier and more accessible to us; we were a mixed-race group and the message of inclusion and what would now be termed ‘anti-fascism’ was at our core; and none of us had mothers who would let us grow mohawks.
As such, I love finding new artists whose roots and influences lie in the same place, and North London-based Filthy Militia are one such band.
Their debut EP, Innocent Until Proven Filthy, dropped into the inbox this week. So I was looking forward to a return to my youth and evenings spent arguing the relative values of The Specials against Madness, The Selecter against The Beat.
What I got was something different – a set of tracks which seemed to find their base more in the heady days of Jamaican Ska than it’s rougher, punk-influenced offspring, but with a definite nod towards the punk-inspired bands I grew up with. There’s a lot more brass than we got in the revival, where guys like Saxa and Rico sometimes felt more like an affectation than an integral part of the sound. Here there’s no mistaking the excellent stabs and fills.
We start with Up In Smoke, an energetic blast which is very danceable and jaunty. Storm Warning is slightly darker, with hints of The Clash, and is probably the closest to the revival sound. Be Real takes you right back to the Sixties with it’s laid back vibe hinting at Prince Buster’s pace and attitude. Finally, Little Sister keeps us firmly in the decade of my birth, with even a suggestion of California surf thrown into the Caribbean mix.
For a four-track EP, Filthy Militia have managed to convey four very different elements of ska, and as such they show their versatility and knowledge of the genre. Certainly if I find myself in their neck of the woods, I’d seek out a gig.
For more information, go to their Facebook page at facebook.com/filthymilitia/ and give them a like!