Since their formation in California back in 1995, the Mad Caddies have been blending their influences from reggae, dub, ska, dancehall, two-tone, and punk (among others.) Now, over 20 years later, they have released their seventh studio album Punk Rocksteady– a unique record entirely of covers, in an ode to their predecessors.
Released on June 15th, Punk Rocksteady was recorded at Motor Studio in San Francisco and produced by Fat Mike. According to the band, the record began as a distant dream which came to fruition when the Mad Caddies and Fat Mike came together to come up with a list of songs that they could bring something new and unique to, while still retaining their original soul. For the Mad Caddies, this meant changing up the genre— often from punk to reggae— a skill which leads them to think more critically about their own songwriting process. As lead singer Chuck Robertson rightfully states: “If the song’s good, it can be played in any genre and do the song justice.”
From Bad Religion’s “Sorrow,” to Propagandhi’s “And We Thought That Nation-States Were a Bad…,” to Against Me’s “Sink Florida Sink,” Punk Rocksteady sports classic reggae cords and tempo, sprinkled with just the right amount of horns and the occasional guitar solo such as that in “Alien 8.” At times giving off a jazzy tone in tracks like “Some Kinda Hate,” the record is anchored by the reggae feel. My favourite track comes in the form of their version of the Descendents’ “Jean Is Dead,” which threw me back to pre-Rome Sublime, and contains one of the record’s few heavier moments just at the end of the track.
There is something so refreshing about a record in which every track does not sound exactly like the one that came before it. This is one of Punk Rocksteady’s greatest strengths. Even within each track, the Mad Caddies meld the best elements of numerous genres in a way that makes for engaging tracks and a solid record. The beauty of this record is that it makes you want to revisit (or in some cases, listen to for the first time if you’re not familiar with them all– like I wasn’t) the originals and listen to them in parallel with the record. Not to compare but more just the appreciate the original and the creative way the Mad Caddies have revamped them. Punk Rocksteady is a gift that keeps on giving.
Written by Jordan Hodgins
*edited by Mike Milito