12 Cents for Marvin

The increasing homogeneity of American culture hasn't completely wiped out unique characteristics of regional music scenes: Austin, Atlanta and even Denver still retain their sonic identities to a significant degree. Still, practically every city large enough to support a college has a band that plays the same sort of bouncy party ska that 12 Cents for Marvin specializes in. Some of these acts are better than average, and some are worse, but the differences among them aren't exactly huge.

Judging by this disc, Marvin ranks at the upper end of the scale. The lively horn charts are handled well, the dub touches are nice, and tracks such as "Dusty Roads" and a swinging version of the "James Bond Theme" skank along effectively. Unfortunately, most of the originals are distinction-free, and the cover of the Kinks' "Lola" would only work in a bar where drinks were on the house. For a week straight.

Change isn't bad, but more change would have been better.


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