Las Vegas ska-punks Be Like Max are back with their fourth album Save Us All. Immediately it strikes as a throwback to the Suicide Machines brand of hardcore punk with massively catchy and danceable ska breakdowns. Being Produced by David McWane, of Big D fame, probably has a lot to do with the tight evolution of the ska influence.
This album is chock full of vitriolic hardcore punk with an undercurrent of brass driven ska. Sometimes the syncopated guitars are used to provide a bouncy backdrop, other times the brass is in the breakdown and given room to expand the sound of the song. The opener “Time Flies When You’re Having Work” gives a prime example of both. While “Elitist Punks” and “The Boss is Stealing” are examples of how to use a horn section to give blisteringly fast punk a chance to breathe.
“At least I’m not a Toucher “ holds nothing back in a song that extols the singers faults while simultaneously providing a vicious take down of real life villains like Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein. “I’m not a Role model, but at least I’m not like Cosby. What a piece of f**cking shit”. The chorus delivers over a fantastic change of pace that hammers home the dichotomy of the self-deprecation versus the criticism of people who use their position of power in heinous ways.
Then there’s “F**k the News” a warning to pay attention to the divisive nature of the news cycles, as Fox and CNN are both the same in their goal of making you distrust the other side. This song is then broken up by a ska-interlude that feels more like a punk-goes-swing invasion that would be at home on a Cherry Poppin’ Daddies album. Immediately following that comes “Give it Up” with what feels like an extension of “F**k the News” but with a different ska twist. These two songs seamlessly create a two act play on the theme of distrusting what you are force-fed.
Not all the songs in the album have that in your face punk attitude as “King of the House” and a cover of Mephiskapheles’ “Doomsday” showcase the bands ability to create a skanking beat. However even these songs hold tight to the theme of self-reflection and the idea that the world has gone crazy. In a rare spot of levity, the album ends with “Home Away from Home” which gives us a little bit of the fun good time bouncy ska that most people think of when someone mentions the word ska.
With Save Us All, Be Like Max have crafted a ska album that defines the ska genre in 2019. This album delivers a mix of hardcore punk and energetic ska that is equally self aware and socially conscious. It is an aggressive, in your face attempt to make you dance.