The Offenders - ‘X’ (Bomber Music) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Rich Hobson   
Tuesday, 26 April 2016 03:40

The OffendersSummer is almost upon us (not that you’d know, what with the grey skies and heavy rain showers and all), and so naturally I find myself dusting off records ready to enjoy the brief windows of sunshine, and more importantly finding out records that I overlooked when they first came out. So it is I chuck on The Offenders’ ‘X’, a ska punk party which was released back in October 2015 (sorry guys).


Hailing from Southern Italy and relocated to Berlin, The Offenders find their musical home on that most sacred of partying punk record labels Bomber Music (home to the indomitable Jaya The Cat, amongst many other greats), the band cast their lot with highly danceable ska punk in its purest party form - none of this Americanized “No Doubt”crap. Named ‘X’ as part of a celebration by the band for turning 10 (duh), The Offenders ply their trade in massively enjoyable songs which draw on some pretty deep sources including “emotional turmoil, life-changing experiences, wasted nights, troubled times and the reality of everyday life” for some party-sounding but deep thinking musical joy.


Kicking off with straight up skanker ‘Alles Muss Raus’ (which translates into ‘Everything Must Go’), the band start with a bang to get the party started. Sang in German, the song refers to wild nights in the clubs of Kreuzberg, and no, I’ve never heard of it either, but judging from the fun tone of this song I’ll be looking to book my next holiday there!


Ultra-funk follow-up ‘Harsh Reality’ keeps the party vibes strong, and if you can resist swinging your hips (or at the very least tapping your toes) to the rhythm of the song then you’re a stronger man (or woman) than I. Heavily infused with the euro-ska sound that also infected Jaya The Cat, this song brings in the first bit of seriousness in the lyrical content with the song dealing with life in the suburbs, and the cultural differences and racism that entail from such places – not that you’d know if you weren’t paying attention.


The la-la-la-las come thick and fast on ‘Tons Of Drunks And Party Scum’ which sticks its hooks in so deep the song takes on an almost insidious feel as you’ll find yourself la-ing to yourself for hours after you’ve heard the song (which is a strong sign of a great Ska record in my books).


Remember how I said the band draw on some pretty deep sources? The depth doesn’t come any darker than on ‘St. Pauli Swing Jugend’, a track which “brings to light the glorious swing kids of Hamburg during the Nazi rule, where dancing to black music was strictly forbidden. Many of them faced jail time or even worse, just because they opposed racist regime” – ooft. Dark as the subject matter is, the song has a triumphant edge to it, and really brings up the punk side of The Offenders; after all what’s more punk than saying “Fuck Nazism, Let’s Party!”?


‘From The East Side To UK’ chucks a bit of latter-day Rancid into the mix, bouncing around with an infectious energy that’ll soon have you thinking it’s a scorching June party even if all other evidence points to the contrary. ‘Martens Style’ lends some credence to the band’s claim to play “Hooligan Reggae”, taking some of the better chanty elements of Oi! and flinging them into a reggae mix which’ll soon have you lacing up your jackboots and pulling on the braces as you bounce about.


Musically, the punk part of ska punk that most categorises the band kicks in on ‘1000 Mal Vergessen’, which is further reinforced by the brilliant refrain in “Society”; ‘Society, is not fit for me” and the misfit punk theme is brought fully round on ‘Kids Like Me’.


The band’s use of Hammond organ throughout the album lends the whole thing a classic ‘60s ska/early 2-Tone feel (which is appropriate as the band originally formed as a 2-Tone revival act), and the jangly bouncing rhythms and at times intricate guitar work (check out the ‘60s psychedelia-ish guitars to ‘2-Tone Time’ and tell me you aren’t impressed) really works to put an individual imprint on the band’s sound.


Ending on the slacker anthem ‘Screwed Up’ (chorus: “Everyone Screws Up SometimesI” – a sentiment that I’m sure we can all appreciate) The Offenders are more than just a straight up party punk band, with an individualistic sound and some great tunes that’ll be sure to perk your ears up all year round.


To pick up your copy of 'X' - CLICK HERE