CD Review: ‘Checkered Past’ by Save Ferris

After a checkered past of lawsuits, breakups, and a 10 year hiatus, Save Ferris has come back under singer Monique Powell with a new album appropriately titled Checkered Past. To give a history-in-brief on the antics of Save Ferris, we have to go way back to 1996. I know, before some of you reading this were born. Scary. Save Ferris started off by releasing their debut EP Introducing Save Ferris under their own label Starpool Records in 1996 selling close to 20,000 copies. To put this in better perspective for some, they sold these 20,000 copies from the “trunks of their cars” as they went the same direction as Joan Jett by being their own label. From here the band went on to get regular radio time in Los Angeles to winning Grammy for best-unsigned band to getting signed with Epic Records. Under this new label, Save Ferris released their debut album It Means Everything in 1997 which featured their famous hit cover “Come on Eileen”. This song is what you probably know this band for as it is still listed as one of their top played tracks online. Next up was their sophomore album Modified in 1999 after the band went through a restructuring. For the following 17 years, the band went through self-funded tours, breakups, and lawsuits amongst the original members. In the band’s new reboot, Powell has taken up the banner as the lead for Save Ferris with their new album Checkered Past being fan funded through a Pledge Music campaign, a heavy call back to the band’s roots.

Now to the new album at hand. Checkered Past has recaptured the sound that has made Save Ferris a staple in the ska music scene. The first track “Anything” glides between speedy verses and a catchy chorus. The vibrato of Powell’s voice really shines here, demonstrating the technical skill Powell puts into her craft. Following “Anything” we have “New Sound” which calls back to ska’s reggae roots. The intoxicating, groovy beat melts into the blended and layered vocals of the chorus and bridge. The next track “Golden Silence” serves as the perfect center to the album, showcasing the broad skills of Save Ferris as a whole. The track brings together the power-packed vocals of Powell mixed with killer horns and a brilliant saxophone solo. Not to the mention the crisp cut time switch ups for the chorus. I’m calling this track ear candy. To round out the album, we have “Do I Even Like You” with a hella catchy chorus and “Goodbye Brother” with a mellow, bouncy vibe.

Overall, Checkered Past keeps to the roots of what made Save Ferris into the famous, self-made band that has rocked the music world for over 20 years. It has a spicy variety that shows that under Powell Save Ferris is still a contender in the ska scene. Her chops paired with the silky smooth musical talent of the band make for a fine meal for any ears to devour. Take a listen for yourself on February 10.

Check out tour dates for the Save Ferris New Sound Tour. Don’t miss out on seeing them after their long hiatus.

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