- Ashton Booth
- Perfectly fit: Maxine and the Eskimo Brothers are carving out their own ska-influenced niche within the Colorado Springs alt-rock scene.
A few months back, my friend and Rough Age frontman Nathan Archer told me about a new band he'd seen, and he was sufficiently impressed to proclaim that there was "a new sheriff in town," musically speaking. I'm not sure the laid-back and friendly folks behind Maxine and the Eskimo Brothers are likely to stake their claim on the local scene in the gunslinging manner of a hard-edged lawman, but there's certainly no denying the talent of these ska-punk-alt-rock purveyors and the unique niche they are carving out.
The band, who completed work on their self-titled EP late last year and have recently enjoyed airplay on 103.9 RXP, have collectively cast musical shadows through Colorado Springs for several years in various acts, including Boondoggle, Lambasted, Band Idiot and Good Morning Accordion Terrorist. Lead singer Maxine Thomas has worked as a deejay, made her debut recording pop music as a solo artist in 2009, and has accumulated several records to her name, including Colors of Love and An American Dream Compilation. She met the rest of the band — guitarist Ryan Kolar, accordionist/keyboardist Chris Mandile, trumpeter Darren Soule, bassist Jeremy Monteleone and drummer Cody Steidinger — as so often happens, through an online ad.
"The band originally called themselves Barrel of Flunkys and put out an ad on Craigslist for a lead singer," says Thomas. "I auditioned and kept showing up to practice — we turned out to be a perfect fit!"
Kolar agrees. "I had taken a break from playing bass in bands a couple years back, and picked up acoustic guitar and started to come up with a few songs here and there. I was really just trying to keep music as a small hobby at that point. I was doing all the singing, but wanted to relinquish the singing responsibility to someone else. We collectively wanted a female vocalist for the material we were coming up with. Maxine was the first singer to show up, and she came right in and wasted no time. She was exactly what we were looking for."
The band has an energetic attack that draws favorable comparisons to ska-influenced punk — not exactly a style that jumps to mind when you think of original music from Colorado Springs — but the group prides itself on its eclecticism and synthesis of disparate genre influences.
"There's so many different musical styles out there, why not encompass everything we can?" muses Kolar. "It stretches our musical palette and abilities, and keeps our interest fresh.
"As far as songwriting, I can be influenced by anything at a given time, whether it's a cool riff or sound I hear in a song, the sound of metal clanking together, a beat someone makes on a dashboard, some profound combination of words, or random music in a movie's ending credits."
Says Thomas: "I've loved the experience of how we've progressed from a ska-punk-reggae sound to a [diverse] alternative rock sound."
Certainly, you don't come across too many bands these days wielding a prominent accordion, and it's even more rare when they aren't just trying to ape Tom Waits. The six tracks found on Maxine and the Eskimo Brothers' EP, which Kolar describes as "a lot of fun" to capture on tape, were recorded in three sessions with J.D. Feighner at 1620 Studios, and fueled by "a good share of shenanigans."
The record is available via iTunes, on Spotify, or, of course, at one of their high-energy shows. You can catch the group Dec. 11 at the Zodiac; Dec. 12 at the Black Sheep, for the 103.9 RXP "Christmas Bash" show with Night Riots, Dreamers, USS and Common Kings; and live in the studio on KCMJ, on Dec. 20. All the activity should hype you up for their second release, which is due in February and which Thomas describes as filled with songs celebrating "Colorado, freedom, love and cannabis."
In the meantime, here are some further local shows this week worth your attention:
Californian DJ collective and prolific remixers Candyland hit Rawkus on Friday, Dec. 4.
The following night, Fort Worth-based melodic rockers The Unlikely Candidates play the Black Sheep, joined by local standouts SoundStudies and Atlantic Panic.
Also on Dec. 5, legendary ska revivalists The English Beat return to Rawkus. If you're somehow not a fan of the Beat, you should still be in attendance to say hello to frontman Dave Wakeling, possibly the nicest man in show business.
Finally, if you simply haven't been able to get your deserved fix of goblin-metal lately, you certainly shouldn't miss Nekrogoblikon at the Black Sheep on Sunday, Dec. 6, with Blighter, Piojos and Stavesail in tow.
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