The second section of the result of my re-listening to my old ska cds, we have the discography of capdown. But don’t worry, its fairly short.

Capdown – Civil Disobedients - 4/5

It should be noted that one of the things that draws me to metal more often than not is prevalent here – the ability to actually play your instrument. Don’t get me wrong, there’s no hidden Satriani’s or Bonhams in this line-up but it’s a far-cry from the 3-chord wonders we see cropping up far too frequently.

This ska/hardcore band has two distinct styles present, either swaying quite heavily on the ska side of things (e.g. Ska Wars) or heavily on the hardcore punk side of things (e.g. Kained but able) and they tend to sway between the two sides, never leaving sight of each other but that perfect medium between the two never seems to have been attained. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, as it lends some variety to the album.

The whole thing kicks off with a bang in “unite to progress” letting wild with one of the quickest paced tracks on the album, refusing to let up as it bleeds through into “Kained but Able” – A track based upon the rights of the individual to smoke marijuana – and its only until “Ska Wars” we truly see what they can do on the ska side of the genre, and it doesn’t disappoint, producing a sound both aggressive yet infused with that odd sax-infused groove you cant help but be drawn in by.

The bass is often audible, the guitar adding either a basic chord framework or ska-tune, and the drumming is often varied and better than most of what ive heard within the genre, and all this layered upon by the focal point – the vocals. An almost super-aggressive Ramones or Clash style of vocals, they sound upbeat and serve to add to the fury and intensity present in each track, but most importantly are the lyrics. They actually have a point. Every track has its own purpose, its own message representing the views of the band, from the legalisation of marijuana (Kained but Able), the cry to ask for change from the government (Neverlution) or possibly my favourite of their tracks, a song about people using their freedom of speech (Bitches and Nike Shoes). To quote the latter track:

“Ready to judge but unable to listen
To real fuckin' people with their own set of views
Not just some noise about bitches and nike shoes”

Usually I pay little attention to lyrics, as they rarely seem to have much of a point, but that is not the case here.

This is an album where they manage to fuse two genres and do it well, but its that lack of a happy medium – too often it feels the tracks are too separate from each other, that the whole thing plays less like an album and more like a simple collection of tracks.

Highlights: Kained but Able, Cousin Cleotis, Bitches and Nike Shoes

Capdown – Pound for the Sound – 4.5/5

If their biggest problem before was creating that perfect balance between two genres, they’ve eradicated that here. From the get go we get what could sound like a typical hardcore punk song, if not for the ever-present sax melody, not only adding something brilliant to the opening track of this song but proving his ability as a musician – something I felt was lacking last time round. It should be noted that this album takes on a more progressive direction, switching between two styles – mainly utilizing the drums and the guitars in order to create the sound change.

Largely this similar to their previous album, but it seems they tried to bridge the flaws in their last piece, adding more sax-jazz, transitions between styles within songs, and keeping the same level of morality to each song, there is nothing on their debut that hasn’t both been matched and improved upon with this release.

So why not the perfect score? Something seems lacking, something that gives them that unique bit of individuality, to separate them from others and really add their own brand on the genre, that forces you to pay attention to every word, to every riff, every drum beat and it’s a shame they never will find that missing ingredient.

Highlights: Faith No More, Strength in Numbers, Pound for the Sound

Capdown – Wind up Toys – 2/5

Its been a long time since they released an album, so I was expecting a change in their sound but this was not expected. I have difficulty in even calling this ska or hardcore anymore. Rarely will a sax be heard, the vocals now sound largely unenthused and more akin to pop/rock, the guitarist parts have turned into 3-chord wonders! ARGH! We have a band who have turned into every other generic pop/punk band around.

There are glimmers of hope, indications of their roots, such as the ska-like verses in “keeping up appearances” or the heavily toned down style in “Surviving the Death of a genre,” which is fairly self explanatory as to its lyrical theme, but they haven’t really survived. They’ve changed into a different band in order to survive. Given the difficulty they had getting re-signed, I was expecting all out fury, anger at their genre having died in popularity, and I’m left with sing-a-long content sounding chorus’ that simply fail.

They should have taken the hint when they were dropped by the label and called it day. This really is one for those who like to own discographies, as there’s maybe one or two tracks on this album that promotes it from the status of ‘something to rest your beer on.’

Highlights: Surviving the Death of a Genre, Thrash Tuesday, Keeping up Appearances

By T. Bawden