I don’t know if the baby is a part of the band.
Now today’s band is definitely worth listening to just because of how strangely upbeat and fun it can be. And they’ve got such a weird blend of musical styles mixing in together. It’s like listening to old-school ska performed by a college marching band under the direction of Frank Zappa… with an all girls, Catholic school choir thrown in just because there wasn’t enough random stuff in the stew.
But that’s the kind of crazy sound you might expect from that reggae-influenced supergroup Still Flyin’, which is made up of 15 members and was founded by indie music veteran Sean Rawls who was also a member of Masters of the Hemisphere and Je Suis France. Rawls formed the band around a single song called “Never Gonna Touch the Ground,” which he wrote with Je Suis France. Inspired by this song he gathered 15 musicians, himself included, dubbed the collective Still Flyin’, and got to work on crafting infectious rocksteady-based grooves with positive vibes and upbeat pop melodies.
Their most recent release is entitled Za Cloud EJ where “EJ” stands for “Extended Jam.” It’s only five tracks long, but what I have heard has convinced me that it would worth adding to any music collection. The first track, “Sticking My Head in Ice Water (Almost for Too Long),” has a tune that is very reminiscent of “Who’s Got the Herb?” by 311, which one their more reggae-influenced tracks and is also very popular amongst fans. But “Sticking My Head in Ice Water” definitely goes in much a different direction than “Who’s Got the Herb?” For one, it exhibits a much stronger influence from the indie rock scene and it has a more psychedelic edge to it. It also has a stronger ska presence in the form of a prevalent brass section. It’s a really strong composition and it will make you want to dance around really slow-like in a room full of swirling colors.
“The Art of Jamming” is a much more impressive song, which is really saying something since “Sticking My Head in Ice Water (Almost for Too Long)” is damn good too. “The Art of Jamming” is what provided my primary inspiration for the introductory description of Still Flyin’ (see first paragraph for what the hell I’m talking about). Honestly, I really do get that Frank Zappa vibe from listening to this song. Zappa mastered the ability to arrange an orchestra of musicians playing a variety of instruments that were not typically considered “rock ‘n roll” to create strange yet catchy pop melodies. “The Art of Jamming” and Still Flyin’ overall has that same kind of sound, but it feels a lot less orchestrated and lot more impromptu, which I suppose is why the album is referred to as an Extended Jam. And it fills you with pep and vigor like a college marching band is supposed to do. So I stick to my simile with pride.
If you like traditional ska, catchy pop melodies, and/or weird indie compositions then Still Flyin’ is just what you’re looking for. And from I here, they have a really interesting live show with guest musicians like Jens Lekman as well as Isobel Knowles and Tara Shacknell of Architecture in Helsinki.
Purchase Za Cloud EJ by Still Flyin’
Still Flyin’ – Sticking My Head in Ice Water (Almost for Too Long)
Still Flyin’ – The Art of Jamming
For more music by Still Flyin’, go to their MySpace page.