Popes Of Chillitown

To The Moon

Written by: MAK on 19/08/2015 13:28:35

We all come across live acts that blow our minds enough that we need to tell the whole world about them, and recently for me London ska band Popes Of Chillitown became that band. Luckily enough the six-piece released an album back in May called “To The Moon” that I can tell you all about instead. Classing themselves as ska/dub/punk, Popes Of Chillitown provide a mixture of chilled out rhythms from their dub element, but it is the pure energy in the ska and punk side that carries this London act forward.

Opening track “Vamos a la Luna” which is almost a title track translating as “We go to the moon” kicks off the album with that slow and steady, chilled dub feeling in the beat and reggae-esque vocals, briefly before vocalist Matt Conner lets out a scream and the music instantly intensifies. The brass becomes a piercing sound, the guitars get heavier and slightly distorted and the beat gradually gets faster and harder along with Conner’s vocals. You know something big is about to happen and the words “5..4..3..2..1…WE’RE READY TO GOOOO!” unleashes an energy filled chorus where the beats are fast, the brass is pumping and you cannot help but lose your shit and skank heavily. Incredible start to an album which sets the tone that you will be either grooving or wanting to dance heavily for the majority of it. Matt Conner’s vocals are a mixture of punk-rock style singing and hardcore shouts along with raps that carry an accent which undeniably has a London twang to it. Throughout the album, Conner adds little sound effects and twists to his vocal style mid-sentence that keep things quite interesting, and while that sounds inconsistent in writing it does work really well.

Follow-up track “Mummy’s Boy” has a strong Capdown feel to it, very reminiscent to the song “Community Service” in both guitar rhythm and vocal style. You can tell the influences that have guided Popes Of Chillitown’s sound, the angsty ska punk side fits very well with the likes of Random Hand, T//Alan (formerly Tyrannosaurus Alan) and The Junk. Especially the brass side to Popes seems very influenced by Random Hand, whereas the raps are very similar to T//Alan’s general swagger, to the point where “Voluntary Execution” could easily be a T//Alan song. It’s very similar to their song “Futures”. While rap style vocals aren’t automatically paired with the likes of ska bands in America, UK acts in the last decade or so have managed to find a way to make it seem the norm, and it fits perfectly with Popes of Chillitown energetic side. There is also a slight hint of Skindred’s dub side too, and though it’s overpowering, in fact the ska-punk is the more dominant element in Popes Of Chillitown’s sound.

Stand out songs are definitely “Wisdom Teeth” and “Impatient” along with the opening track, “Wisdom Teeth” kicks off with a very catchy brass melody that gets heavier after just a couple of bars and is, accompanied with distorted guitars, easily the heaviest moment of the album and probably the only part you will headbang to. But that doesn’t last as the gang vocals of “NA NA NA NA NA NA” signal a tempo and mood change from the heavy and aggressive intro to something more fun that you can lose your shit to in a more enjoyable way. Again a mixture of pop punk style vocals and rap fit perfectly to the music. “Impatient” on the other hand starts off with lots of fun rhythms and faster beats, but its leads into a mellow dub-esque piece midway through the song which is rather soothing and nice to sing along to.

“To The Moon” is a fantastic second album from Popes Of Chillitown. To quote a line from their track “14 Time”, “This is not Kingston, this is London, England” - The 6-piece are announcing themselves truly into the UK ska punk scene for a lot more people to take notice, and figure as likely torch carriers in the coming years, with the likes of Random Hand and Beat The Red Light calling it quits for now at least. If you want something very fun with lots of energy and something to go absolutely crazy to then “To The Moon” is a vital listen and quite possibly the most enjoyable ska-punk album I have heard in recent years. Considering that this album is self-produced and was funded by the means of crowdfunding it is an incredible feat!


Download: Vamos a la Luna, Wisdom Teeth, Impatient, OPOOM
For The Fans Of: Capdown, The Junk, Random Hand, Anti-Vigilante, T//Alan
Listen: facebook.com

Release date 15.05.2015
Self Released

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