This is Minneapolis/St. Paul based Umbrella Bed.
Let’s just get this part of out of the way… they are a ska band.
Were you alive and aware in 1995? Then you may recall what has now been labeled as the ‘third wave’ of ska that bubbled to the surface of contemporary music. Many alternative acts meshed their dramatic teen angst melodies with elements liberally borrowed from a genre that had its roots in 1950’s Jamaican music. No Doubt rode that wave to mainstream super-stardom. They did have a Gwen Stefani. I am sure that had something to do with it.
Umbrella Bed started out in 1995, so their origin story makes sense. Bands like The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Fishbone, Voodoo Glow Skulls, Reel Big Fish, The Toasters and many more were dominating the landscape and big name summer festivals like The Warped Tour. That time frame bred a certain aesthetic of sound that Umbrella Bed fully embraces.
The horns, the up-stroked tin guitars, the marching quick dance tempos… all the boxes of the ‘ska’ genre requirements are competently checked.
Do you/did you like ska? Then you will like this.
When bands fall so squarely into a ‘sound’ or a genre, it makes an easy sell. You can probably guess your level of liking before you even hear a note.
That’s not to say Umbrella Bed doesn’t have their own, cleaned-up alternative laced take on the ska movement. They purposefully aim for a sound that embraces the ‘2 Tone’ sound of ska. Named after the 2 Tone Records label started by Jerry Dammers of The Specials, the bands aimed for a faster tempo, fuller sound, and harder edge. The band Madness was one of the more recognizable acts that defined the label.
Another point in the bands favor is their dedication. Most of the original core band still exists, including frontman and trumpeter ‘Hellrocket’. They have numerous albums including a few early self-releases and a solid back catalog on German based Mad Butcher Records.
All this 2 Tone inspired ska-ness can be found on their latest release that dropped in March of 2018 called, “Rotate”.
It’s 8 tracks of expected fun, by the numbers ska with the occasional flourish of some indie exploration. You can feel this willingness to paint outside the lines in the guitar breakdowns on the bridge of ‘Always On The Rebound’.
Another stand-out is the album closer, a moody twist of an instrumental called, ‘3-Twenty Seven’.
The band is rock steady throughout the eight tracks offered on “Rotate”. If you can name a worthy ska band, there is a 98% chance Umbrella Bed has shared a stage with them at some point. If you’re record collection needs another ska band, or you’d like to use some music to take your brain back to the heady, uncertain days of the mid-to-late 90’s, Umbrella Bed has you covered.
To embrace the band with more of your attention, check their website for everything cool: Umbrella Bed Official Website