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Boston based The Have Nots are a mixture of two other talented bands that made some nice noise a few years ago, the Stray Bullets and Chicago Typewriter. First & foremost, the band quickly reminds us how potentially sound the marriage of punk, reggae & ska can be when heart and conviction is poured into it rather than a trendy surf on the ska-punk watershed ala late 90s. In their latest album, Serf City USA, The Have Nots’ prescription of punk-ska revives the worker class of Oi! mode punk more in line with The Clash and Operation Ivy. In short, Joe Strummer would have this vinyl rotating in an upstate apartment while tapping on the window as he stared into the streets below.
Besides being chock full of middle-class anthems, The Have Nots bring to bare a refined ska-punk that has one foot in tradition and one modernized enough to clearly separate them from those bands of earlier decades. The bassist & drummer do the major legwork on laying down the ska framework of the songs but also drop in the technical & polished machine gun musicmanship that borrows from metal in many ways. In a competition with this component comes Pruitt & Cauztik, dueling vocalists that both hard strum (especially the upstroke) on semi-hollows. Vocally, one singer brings the hyper, frenetic edge of melodic hardcore where the other remains the rude boy equivalent in punk rock. The rhythms remain your typical power & barre cord punk rock orientation and the other vocalist lays down the reggae-edged guitar. The latter guitar is somewhat dulled from usual ska-punk giving the totality of the sound a deep, grinding tone. In the end, my faith that ska-punk is more than just novelty has been restored with The Have Nots.