Frankly, the many-membered Boston act Big D and the Kids Table was not, at its inception, among the front-runners for survival of ska's so-called "Third Wave" in the '90s. The band started a little too late – 1995 – to be seen as truly authentic at the movement's peak, around '97 or '98. Its hometown too was seen as an also-ran to the big ska epicenters of New York City and Southern California. What's more, the band's slap-happy, distorted, punk guitar stylings alienated the genre's so-called "traditional ska" purists. Yet here we are in 2009, and Big D and company are going as strong, with as big a lineup, as ever. Where the band excelled in the beginning was in ignoring the snobbery from all sides and instead growing its fan base grassroots-style and always keeping a sense of humor. Take, for instance, that 2003 disc of rap versions of its own songs or that gonzo cover of the Specials' "Little Bitch." This may be cringe-inducing to some, but to many others, it's a welcome, brass-fueled escape from real-life problems. And it's hard to hate on that too much. And surprisingly, the band's latest album, Fluent in Stroll, takes an unexpected turn. Although the "stroll" in the title is, supposedly, a new genre-blend term coined by the band (sigh), it means a melodious blend of slightly less spastic ska, surf rock, dubby reggae, and vintage soul.
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