5 Ska Bands to Listen to in 2020


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Ska music originated in Jamaica in the late 1950s, with combined elements of jazz, rhythm and blues, Caribbean mento, and calypso. It's gone in and out of popularity, revived in the UK in the late '70s becoming ska-punk by adding a punk edge and then again, in the late '80s and '90s with ska bands birthed across the globe. Ranker.com lists The Specials, a revival band that recently celebrated the 40-year anniversary of their debut album as No. 1 on its list of "Greatest Ska Bands of All Time."

But who are the top bands to listen to today?

The Slackers

Formed in New York City in 1991, The Slackers are often named among the very best ska bands around today, with a prolific career highlighted by their second album that was released in 1997, "Redlight," which ranked No. 7 on the Billboard's "The Year in Music" list that year. The current band members, Vic Ruggiero, Ara Babajian, Marcus Geard, Dave Hillyard, Jay Nugent, and Glen Pine occasionally perform in other bands too. Ruggiero performs as a solo act that includes reworked Slackers songs and original compositions, although the band is currently touring North America together.

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Top Shelf Shake

As you'd probably expect, there are some great Los Angeles ska bands too like Top Shelf Shake. The three-member band from Chino is made up of Aaron Zuniga, Brandon Caudle, and Zac 'Green Mile' Gram. They formed in the spring of 2014 and are known for having a distinct style of their own that combines ska, punk, rock, and reggae. Their latest release came in 2018, "Strange Radio EP" with songs inspired by the current state of the world, personal struggles and pop culture.

Bumpin Uglies

The Bumpin Uglies are an east coast band from Annapolis, Maryland featuring Brandon Hardesty, Dave Wolf, TJ Haslett, and Chad Wright. Currently touring across the U.S., they've put out a long list of albums, with 2018's "Beast from the East," their latest. Many fans note that it's the best, most polished of their work to date with "game-changers" like hip-hop infused "Hard Liquor."

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The Pandemics

The Pandemics are an eight-piece band with roots in Long Island and Westchester featuring both veterans and members who are newer to the scene, debuting in December of 2010. Their albums to date include "Brain On Tap," "Lonely Like the Sun," "Hard Headed," and "The Patient Zero.

The Crombies

Hailing from Chicago, The Crombies are a 2-Tone ska band that includes members Dave Simon, Karl Gustafson, Mike Park, and Vee Sonnets. They come from popular ska bands like Deal's Gone Bad, Lord Mike's Dirty Calypsonians, The Civilized Age, Anger and the Sonnets. A popular dance ska band, they can frequently be heard playing around the Windy City. Their debut album "Dance Crazee," featuring The Specials' Roddy Radiation, includes 11 cuts of "classic British second wave 2-Tone ska," and was released on February 8, 2019.

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