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It’s not very common nowadays to hear of bands fusing the genre of ska into their styles. Freak-folk-experimental-pop-trip-hop? Sure, why not. But ska? Now, in 2010? Well, bands like The Madness Method prove that apparently it still happens.
The Madness Method describe their music as “spock”; that is, ska with hints of pop and rock. Two of the band’s most popular tracks, You Were Right and Better Without You, seemed to represent the “spock” genre well. Both had signature ska elements such as walking bass lines (provided by absolutely spot-on bassist Jon Meller), guitar rhythms that accented the upstrokes, drummer Paul Frangos’ driving beats, and bright, harmonising brass lines courtesy of Shelly Ryan on saxophone and Matt Story on trumpet (trombonist Tom McKenzie was absent). The fast-paced tempos and catchy melodies of both songs, the distinctly pop-tinged chorus in You Were Right and the rockier chorus in Better Without You fit in nicely with these ska elements to create a fresh sound; a “spocky” sound. Both of these songs also had videos made for them, which were launched at The Toff during this particular show.
While many of The Madness Method’s songs sounded quite similar to each other, the repetitiveness was broken up by a few songs that had quite a different feel to most of the others. For example, Concrete Heart was slower and more sensual. It still had its standard block-upstroke strumming on guitar and a catchy bass line that walks up and down the frets, but things such as guitarist Luke Forward’s commanding solo using a wah pedal, a sultry saxophone line and long, held notes on brass set it apart and made it a clear stand-out from the set. Vocalist and front-woman Mandy Meadows was allowed more freedom — compared to the somewhat restrictive melodies of other songs — to really show off her vocal control, and she sang the lyrics with a punchy attitude that made you believe she really meant what she was singing. Towards the end of the song, the band dropped out and Mandy held a note for what seemed like minutes, and then followed it up with an impressive display of almost-jazzy vocal gymnastics before the band came back in for the final two choruses.
An honourable mention also goes out to Wikipedia, which was a lot more funk-inspired than most other songs in the set and also featured a very rock-n-roll breakdown that got the audience raising their fists and whipping their hair.
The members of The Madness Method are no doubt talented and work extremely well as a single entity. The enthusiasm of the drummer, the lightning-fast fingers of the laidback bassist, the choreographed head-tilts of the brass players, the tasteful solos by the guitarist and Mandy’s sass and pipes made for an entertaining show. This band does not make easy-listening music; it’s not for everyone. As the band themselves state, their music is “not grungy, earthy, wailing or hauntingly beautiful”. It’s not deep, it won’t move you to tears, and it probably won’t cause any epiphanies or arouse profound emotions within you. But that’s not really what The Madness Method were aiming for anyway. They’re all about upbeat, fun, in-your-face songs; light-hearted lyrics that mock and tease; energetic performance and the raucousness that is the fusion-genre of “spock.”
- The Madness Method MySpace
- The Madness Method official website
- The Madness Method Facebook
- Flickr set for the gig by Ta-DAH! Photo
TEXT BY STEPHANIE-BOWIE LIEW AND PHOTO BY TA-DAH! PHOTO