Whither “Fourth Wave” Ska?

Ska!Something has been bothering me lately, and I think it’s high time to get it off my chest: I miss ska. Perhaps I’ve been asleep at the metaphorical wheel and haven’t noticed a slew of new releases from a host of ska/ska-core bands, but it seems to me as if the genre has gone largely silent, and the musical world is much the poorer for it.
I’ve been listening to my old punk/ska mix in the car on the way in to work each day and have found myself slapping the steering wheel in time to the beats of multiple Third Wave-ish bands – Less Than Jake, Mephiskapheles, Skankin’ Pickle, Goldfinger, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Mustard Plug, etc. That, plus a radio tribute to Desmond Dekker occasioned by his death got me to thinking: where is the Fourth Wave of Ska? When it arrives, will it be recognizable as such?
Andy, Brad and I have always joked about starting a new band and taking ska in a new direction, perhaps “techno ska” (break beats + horn breaks) or, with the resurgence of dance/club songs on the airwaves, some fusion of old style dancehall/rudeboy music with newer club beats.
So, dear readers, tell me: am I off my rocker here? Did I somehow miss a resurgence of the genre that finally gave us band geeks a chance to stand on stage as coequals with the never-out-of-style lead singer/rhythm guitarists? Or is it truly dead for the moment?


Agreed, I just got the ska bug a month ago and ripped through my library on the iPod. I then proceeded to listen to Rancid over and over and over again for that pure punk feeling.

I found my Goldfinger CD and put in in about 3 months back. Saw a Rancid sticker here in NC the other day. I still have the bug, fosheesy.
As to mainstream – It’s hard to say. Standard Pop fare is going through a lull of sorts, and with RHCP releasing soon, as well as some other long awaited releases by other mid/late 90’s folk, maybe some of the Ska people can get some more music out.
Maybe they did what we did, and got old…

I feel you I’ve been aching for more ska like Five Iron Frenzy. I didn’t realize how much I missed them, came to realize ska is dead. I shead a tear and now begin to loath the bands that brought me such joy. Well it is better to have loved and lost then to never have loved at all.

If you’re a Reel Big Fish fan, you ought to pick up their new live CD (“Our Live Album Is Better Than Your Live Album”). It does a pretty good job of summing up their entire catalog ande definitely has a humorous tone to it.

Have bass, will travel.
Anyway – Yeah – just ripped all my CD on my PC, [darned] if I don’t have about 7 MMB CDs and they were a blast to relisten too! I really like their like CD. Hey Brad wanna go see them again in Asbury Park – just take 33 all the way there! Stupid Mapquest….Conlon broke his nose when someone crowd surfing landed on his face, haha! Dickey was actually on the radio not too long ago. MMB are officially “on a break” but he is doing morning radio out in Cali. Oh and I have heard techno/ska. Let’s leave that alone, HAHA!!

Hey man, i totally know wht you meen. but i just feel it in my bones now. I feel the fourth wave coming. just look at all the bands now paying tribute to traditional and 2 tone ska. i just listened to the knew Reel Big Fish Album and they are back to all ska now. they even have a traditional ska song in their new cd. also a while ago Big D and the Kids Table came out with a new cd wich was all 2 tone and traditional ska, were as their older stuff is in more of the 3rd wave ska range. also there is a big ska show at the metro in chicago every year that i’ve gone to for 3 years now. the first year no one skanked and every one moshed. there were no suits and there were few people. the next year there were people with at least ska shirts and a few kids skanking. now i went again this year and there were alot of suits and tons of people were skanking, adn the place was packed. when Less Than Jake played they did their ska stuff unstead of their punk with horns. i just am feeling it man. i know that you wrote this a while ago but here’s from the future looking back….i feel it coming, and i will do all i can to help it arive.
– stay ska
Rude Boy Pete

“also there is a big ska show at the metro in chicago every year that i’ve gone to for 3 years now. the first year no one skanked and every one moshed. there were no suits and there were few people. the next year there were people with at least ska shirts and a few kids skanking. ” – Rude Boy Pete
Maaaaaaan I’d go crazy I swear. Ska should be defined as something completely different then that of hardcore. And there is definatly still alot of good ska bands around. I know that at some recent shows that I have attended there has been somewhat moshing at shows but there is still some people skanking. Its basically just people skanking on the outside and people hardcore dancing in the middle.. which confuses me how can someone hardcore dance to SKA!? I also have yet to see someone at a show with a suit on and hardly any people with checkered clothes or anything that would identify people really into ska. It makes me wonder if people still know the history of where it came from or even care. Alot of the recent and upcoming genres do not seem to have much of a history and I know where I live majority of the shows are “screamo”.. what basis do these shows have and what is the point of the subculture. One of the things I enjoy the most about ska is the fact that it does have an indepth history and that there is a point to it. Not necessarily a political point but when your at a ska show you feel like your part of something. Iunno I just find the feeling of listening to ska and being around people into ska.. and ESPECIALLY at the concerts euphoric.
I haven’t researched enough of my ska bands to know whether they are still around or not but I do know that there is still new ska bands emerging. My friend mentioned to me of a fourth wave of ska starting up with the music more punk influenced with faster rifts ( The Johnstones from Toronto .. and aswell as the Flatliners I suppose). Personally I enjoy the slower influenced songs like The Specials, The Toasters, The Skatalites, hell even Sublime.
Thats my ska rant.. sorry if I went completely off of topic. ^_^

Fourth wave is well on it’s way headed by Thomas Kalnoky with Streetlight Manifesto and Bandits Of The Acoustic Revolution, there is no way you can say your balls didn’t drop after hearing the album Everything Goes Numb, also take a look at Bedouin Soundclash, they just got on warped tour this year, super stoked to see that with Reel Big Fish also rocking it this year.

I don’t think 3rd wave is quite dead yet, bands like Streetlight Manifesto and Suburban Legends are keepen’ it dwindling life, but hay if you start a techno ska band I will be your first fan. Cuz that is just combining the 2 greatest forms of music!

ska has never died went underground perhaps, but the fourth wave? well i dont think it will happen i mean alot of bands new and old are still playing that 3rd wave sound, i mean ska is seeming to make a come back in cali rbf is playing on the radio sirius is playing streetlight and well the next wave is most likly going to be a second coming of the thrird

ok so heres the thing,
there is a 4th wave and it really sucks[…].
its a combination of metal and ska,
like really metal breakdowns like emo metal break downs with trumpets,
its awful music.
[Slightly edited for language. -ed.]

yall are too young. real ska is 1st and 2nd wave. screw the 3rd wave (I lived through it, some is ok, but it’s too far away from its roots). I hope to god that 4th wave isn’t just a continuation of 3rd wave. Preferably it will be a mix of 1st and 2nd with just a bit of 3rd, but above all it will be a fresh take on the spirit of classic ska that goes in directions not yet explored.

It’s good to find a good ska discussion! I’ve been wondering also if there is going to be a 4th wave. Ive heard the term more and more lately. There are some bands that are fusing the emo-esque sound and other more modern forms of rock with horns I think that may create some kind of sub-genre. I have also encountered metal/ska lately basically progressive ska with heavy guitar breakdowns. I dont think this deserves to be called another ‘wave’.
I’d like to know what other people think the next ‘wave’ could be?
It does seem like the genre is further and further away from it’s roots. I still feel that Ska will continue to evolve and wont go away.
Check out what ska bands are doing in Australia like Foghorn Leghorn (tour support for Streetlight Manifesto in Australia) http://www.myspace.com/foghornleghornska

I think saying third wave ska isn’t ska is like saying jazz fusion isn’t jazz. It is ska, it’s just more evolved to the current tastes and trends, which has happened with everything. If Elvis was rock, then doesn’t that mean AC/DC aren’t rock according to this logic?

I would say that Streetlight Manifesto is starting the fourth wave. If you listen to a lot of their music and compare it to third wave bands like Reel Big Fish and Goldfinger, you see a lot of differences. Mainly less punk rock influences.

I am the first 4th wave human being. I’ve journeyed into the far future and have seen the future of ska, but to explain it to you would be like trying to explain an automobile to a caveman. If I could even find 21st century English words to describe it, your minds would not be advanced enough to grasp it. Half the bands do covers of “Simmer Down” though.

As a ska musician myself, I believe the fourth wave is imminant. We will see it hit within the next 5 years no doubt. Some believe Streetlight Manifesto are starting it, but I think the wave is a movement, a phenomenon, and one band alone is not enough to start it by itself. True, Streetlight Manifesto are the most well known “new” ska band out there right now but there is a whole bunch of still underground ska bands and ska militants (thinking here of the Montreal Ska Society, for example) trying to get that wave rolling. Now I can’t speak for other cities, but the Montreal ska scene, small as it may be, is very much alive. Most people just don’t know about it. And what’s great about it combines punk rock solidarity with reggae friendliness… so most bands are awesome in every way and super nice. For those curious for a taste of things to come, check out these bands (they all have myspace pages): K-Man and the 45’s, The Hangers, Take The Boys, Danny Rebel and the KGB, The Fabulous Lolo, Massawippi Skank, The One Night Band, The Beatdown, Stepper, and my band: The Wax Buckets.
Thank you.

Thanks a bunch for pointing out those other bands.
Now I’ve gotta go find some two-tone slacks and a fedora. *grin*

I too think that streetlight is the first glimmer of the 4th wave, but it’s not just them. For example, check out On Your Marx. They even describe themselves as 4th wave, and even though they haven’t hit it big yet, I believe them.

I finally bit the bullet and grabbed Streetlight Manifesto’s latest album for $5 off Amazon’s MP3 store — why didn’t y’all tell me that they are Catch-22 reincarnated?
If I had to give their sound a description, I would categorize them as possessing the vocals and rhythms of early Goldfinger or Buck-o-Nine with a horn sensibility that sounds incredibly like Less Than Jake.

if you like ska, and want to hear some new style and flavor added to it, check out “Jay Dee Queue – 23rd Century Ska” . check out jaydeequeue.com or search him out on google and there are plenty of free sample tracks. i love it.

….and now…summer 2010….4 ska wave: …its the new dirty reggae boss sound…..like Agrgolites, slackers,stubborn records…and all the european crazy [stuff] like mooninvaders,pepper pots etc..
ska cant die–its always been there..
salute rude hi-fi
[Edited for language. -ed.]

i can feel it man a 4th wave is coming. it suprised me how many people actually listen to it, especially band geeks lol (i am one myself, drumline :D) me, my brother, my friend cream cheese(alex), smoothtalk(josh) and now my friend Daisy(james) are starting a ska band, we need is a singer, trumpet and sax, we’re trying to get the 3rd wave sound, and once we get stuff together we’re gonna push for the new two-tone revolution, we’re captain smoothtalk and the two tone stooges. we dont have stuff on myspaceyet

I think that if ska “got back to it’s roots” so to speak it would be more of a resurrection of 1st wave ska, not really an entire new wave. My definition of a wave is an essential overhaul of what ska is. And going off that, Streetlight Manifesto and BOTAR would be the next wave of ska. They just have an original sound and are just something completely new