Album Review: Sk8 City High School All-Star Jazz Band’s “Ranch Generation”

There is nothing quite like a Sk8 City show. Their tenacious voracity is omnipresent, rearing its head in dense music and comedic moments. If you have seen them, there is no doubt you have had Easy Mac thrown at you, laughed at their goofy quips or stood in awe at a particular otherworldly musical moment, with sound wielding a fiery power unique to this trio surrounding you. It is most likely the case you have experienced all three of these. So, when I heard Sk8 City was going to release an album, my first question was, “How are they going to translate that into a studio recording?”

Of course, that is not possible—so much of their musical essence is based off building walls of sound together to shelter the audience, and so much of their humor relies on interacting with their fans—but they got pretty dang close with their debut. The full-length album boasts all originals with 27 tracks—partly thanks to the 14 improvised interludes, all identically entitled “PLANET SAX!!” While the album lacks much of the goofy, dense experience of their concerts, the music is top-notch, possibly even more so on the record. At points their playing does not have the urgent and sporadic carefreeness so present live, but this does not hinder their creativity and their ability to constantly put themselves out there.

A favorite track was the final “t,” a washed out, trippy jam that is sure to leave the listener both disoriented and lulled into a calmer state, an interesting end to an otherwise chaotic, ear-splitting record. “Ranch Generation” captures the grindcore spirit and melds it with improvisation successfully, and from the grating sax call in the beginning to the subtler ending, it will keep the listener hooked and alert, ready to mosh and headbang along.

Sk8 City High School All-Star Jazz Band is senior and tenor saxophonist Sam Pratt, senior and drummer Ridley Tankersley and guitarist Christian Carroll ’16. You can find “Ranch Generation” as well as other releases at <>.