When I think of ska, one of the first names that comes to mind is Mike Park. You might know him as the founder of an iconic label called Asian Man Records; a venture he has operated out of his mom’s garage for over 25 years, helping break bands like Alkaline Trio, Less Than Jake, and The Lawrence Arms. You may also know of his work as a brilliant singer, songwriter, and performer who has played in bands like Skankin’ Pickle and The Chinkees.
As of late, Mike Park has returned to his role as frontman of The Bruce Lee Band, a project which had been mostly dormant since its 1995 self-titled debut LP. In 2014, Park revived the band seemingly out of thin air with Jeff Rosenstock‘s help, releasing a ska-punk masterpiece titled Everything Will Be Alright, My Friend. And while I’m sure following up an excellent album like that can be a daunting task, the Bruce Lee Band’s all star lineup passed the test with flying colors on 2022’s One Step Forward. Two Steps Back.
The band’s new record boasts a 12-song track list ranging in style from bouncy keyboard infused two-tone songs like “Did You Find the Money Farm”, “So Nice for Me and You”, and “Dance Dance Revolution”, to up-tempo anthems in “Lie Big and Do it Often”, “Putting Up With All My Crazy”, and “I’ll Feel Better”. This is a quintessential ska-punk album that will have you skanking from start to finish if your stamina permits. I loved the last Bruce Lee Band record, and I can say with confidence this one will be staying in my regular rotation for a while.
Mike Park’s soothing baritone voice sounds as great as ever, and after all these years, he still has quite the knack for writing great choruses. His All Star caliber backing band featuring Rosenstock on bass, keys and the saxaphone, MU330‘s Dan Potthast on guitar, and former Chinkees bandmate Kevin Higuchi on drums delivers the goods as well. There is not a skippable song to be found on this record. Keep an eye out for One Step Forward. Two Steps Back. on plenty of “Top 10 Albums of 2022” lists; it has definitely earned a spot on mine.
Listen to One Step Forward. Two Steps Back. below, and head over to Asian Man’s webstore to grab the LP.