Saturday, 14 April 2018

Album Review: Welcome by Abraskadabra

Trying to keep the promise to myself about discovering more great punk rock bands, today I bring you a review of Brazilian skacore band Abraskadabra's brand new album, Welcome. The seven piece from Curitiba have been going since mid-2003 and have shared the stage with the likes of Bad Religion and Flogging Molly along with ska superstars Less Than Jake, Reel Big Fish, Mad Caddies and Voodoo Glow Skulls. To get shows with bands of such a high status, there must be something quite special about Abraskadabra.

Welcome begins with the song Nothing New. As with most opening tracks on an album, it allows the band to set down a marker of what they sound like and what a good band they are. Nothing New starts out fairly surprisingly with some technical guitars and some crashing drums more reminiscent of a skate punk band than a ska band. There is plenty of ska to be found in the song however as it jumps between genres superbly. This is followed up by Heavy Hitters. Unsurprisingly the song starts off with quite a heavy style before quickly transitioning into a fast paced ska number. Everything about the song is high tempo, whether it's fast paced vocals or the infectious horns, it won't take you long to be skanking around your living room like a crazy person. Speaking of the vocals, this is the first time on Welcome that Abraskadabra show off their dual vocalists with both Bugga and Trosso taking turns on the verses and it sounds great. The third song, Left Corner, begins with some more infectious horns that will even get statues dancing. On this track Abraskadabra expertly mix 90s third wave ska with a more modern pop punk sound. Left Corner is about trying to keep moving forward rather than getting stuck fighting in the present.

Border Town has an upbeat reggae vibe. Beginning with one of my favourite horn lines on the entire album, Border Town gets off to a fantastic start and continues to get better and better. As soon as we get to the chorus the song has moved to having a hard hitting drum beat accompanying some melodic vocals. The contrast works extremely well. Worm's Song continues the trend of excellent horns to open up the song. It's one of those ska songs that is super upbeat in sound but is actually about a really sad subject as it is about missing a deceased friend. The track falls more into the punk rock with horns style of ska punk and has a big ending complete with some great harmonies and superb gang vocals. My favourite things! Wheel Of Fortune brings us to the halfway point of Welcome. It's slightly more subdued than the previous songs and isn't played at such a high tempo, showing some variety in the Abraskadabra arsenal. Here we have a melodic pop punk song with horns similar in style to We Are The Union. Maybe it isn't quite as danceable as the more uptempo tracks but man it's hard not to sing-a-long with this song. The track is about a relationship not working out due to bad luck and things just not falling into place.

She's Gonna Livia offers up a magical slice of ska and pop punk. The songs starts out firmly in the pop territory with opening guitar riffs reminding me slightly of old surf pop, transitioning into an upbeat and soulful verse. As the song goes on it builds towards a bigger and crunchier sound that ensures the song finishes with a bang. The song is about knowing that a girl is going to break a friend's heart and trying to tell them. The eighth song on Welcome is titled Catching Fog. When the song began I was expecting a fast paced ska punk song after some hard punk rock guitar but the song quickly switched to the most summery of ska songs. It's another song that will instantly get you skanking. I think that this is the first time that a keyboard/organ is used and this creates a brilliant extra layer to the Abraskadabra sound. I really enjoyed how laid back this tune was. The Tall One has quite an interesting sound. There's a great contrast between the music and the vocals on the track with the music being quite upbeat and in your face and the vocals having a bit of a restrained feeling to them. This really made me pay much more attention to what's being said as you do have to listen a bit harder.

The tenth song on Welcome is Street Of Order Square. There is a harder punk rock sound to this song that hasn't been heard quite as much as I had expected when I first listened through the album. There's still plenty of upbeat horn blasts and the vocals are as melodic as ever but there is also a lot more urgency in the song. This comes from the guitars and the drums which seem to have been played harder on this superb song. The penultimate song, Exactly When, is one of Welcome's stand out tracks. It's a song about life in a band with your friends, wondering if your big break will ever come but keeping on plodding along because you love what you do. It's a laid back and very retrospective song. The guitars are superb and have a bit of a Latino flavour to them which gives Abraskadabra something not many other ska punk bands have. Finally we have the track The Dream, finishing off Welcome in some style. The song starts out with a couple of huge sing-a-long moments before some big horn lines come in. The Dream is another track that features more of Abraskadabra's punk rock tendencies with fast paced guitars, pounding drums and plenty of gang vocals. It's a song that will get you moshing, skanking and singing with a big smile on your face.

If Welcome is your first experience of Abraskadabra you will be extremely impressed and as soon as it finishes you will want to also check out their back catalogue. Something I love doing is looking for bands in places you wouldn't immediately look for bands and discovering some real gems. This is certainly the case here as Abraskadabra have surely released one of the ska albums of 2018.

Stream and download Welcome here:

Like Abraskadabra here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.