Southwork ‘Arise’ Review: Ska and Blues Meets Streetlight Manifesto

The seven-piece collaboration known as Southwork from Philly aim to blend the styles of many different musical genres with their debut album “Arise.”

Southwork mix genres from ska to blue that create a fun album which flows seamlessly from track to track and provides satisfaction to many different musical pallets.

Strong base licks, ska-strokes and brass instruments propel the songs to form a combination of Mad Caddies, Streetlight Manifesto and a hint of the Beatles. The ska songs hold their own amid the other genres which show up throughout the course of the album.

Mike Vivas on lead vocals and guitar sings his melodies in a smooth and delicate tone. Vivas’ range hits the listener from all facets, from the quick ska pace in songs like “My Demise” to the slower bluesey track which follows “Trapped.”

“Take a Breathe” bears the nostalgia of the Beatles, which Vivas says is one of his biggest inspirations. Voice distortion and a drawn out pace pay homage to the great Sgt. Pepper.

Nick Anastasi adds the bass licks which hold the pace throughout the tracks. Especially in “665” which amongst all the horn progressions and guitar strum pauses the bass holds a steady constant pace.

Mike Vogel on keyboards, Backup vocals and kazoo, Joe Smith’s drums and back-up vocals, Al Smith on the baritone Sax, backup vocals, percussion, Tony Trov plays the tenor sax, percussion, ukulele, Erich Miller adds trumpet, percussion add to the welcomed reminders of the summer of ska.

The track “Sundry” combines quick horn progressions with strong percussion rhythms to maintain balance as the song switches genres and winds down with a breakdown featuring the horn section and drum beats, followed by a quick solo to conclude the song.

The track is quickly shadowed by the upbeat “We Don’t Know” a catchy song beginning with a xylophonish melody followed by a punkish guitar progression.

Reminiscence of Blind Melon rears its head then switch to a Sublime display of nostalgia towards the latter half of the album.

Southwork’s first album comes to a tremendous conclusion with “Peace of Mind”, the song is a compilation of the rest of the album. While it borrows from several genres, but it maintains the ska-esque excellence which these guys play quite well.

If someone told you that ska was dead they were mistaken. It’s just been taking a vacation. Southwork the seven piece band from Philly is on a mission to resurrect it.

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