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Umbrella Bed - Refill

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Umbrella Bed is a Minnesota band signed to Mad Butcher Records, a record company described as an "independent anti-racist and socially conscious label." Yet REFILL is a collection that sure doesn't sound like the sort of songs The Specials and English Beat (two artistic influences) were recording back when ska music was a big part of the 80s new wave movement.

Sonically at times, though, it's easy to draw a line of inspiration between English Beat and Umbrella Bed maybe one a little too directly. The track "Gone Away," which is also reprised as a dub recording, borrows heavily from the Dave (English Beat) Wakeling-led "Mirror in the Bathroom," and sounds to have taken that song's bass line fully intact. It even features a funky saxophone solo, just like the old English Beat hit. The only factor that distinguishes this new song from that old one is its spooky organ fills. It's much too close to "Mirror in the Bathroom" for comfort.

This EP's best song is called "Two Tone Monster," which is a character study that seemingly combines Santa Claus, Godzilla and ska music into a fun song. It asks the silly question: "Why does everybody fear the Two Tone Monster?"

Although "Two Tone Monster" is a novelty winner, one still wonders what is so socially conscious about a mythical dance music creature, like the Two Tone Monster. Yes, Umbrella Bed is a fun throwback to the glory days of ska music, but this particular EP is not going to have the same confrontational impact some of the act's musical idols once had. Perhaps more of the group's true character will show up in a full-length release.


Umbrella Bed - Refill
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