Pick You Up - Album Review – Rock On Colorado

Pick You Up is the first album from Denver’s longest playing ska band Judge Roughneck since they release Skankin’ Naked in 1999. It’s an eclectic mixture of songs collected and recorded over a number of years that are both fun and intriguing. We haven’t heard all of them live, so it’s a little odd to hear them playing these more diverse tracks. We’re used to hearing their unique brand of ska, but some of these tunes definitely break new ground. For example: Mirror in the Bathroom (cover of a The English Beat featuring Angelo Moore of fishbone) has weird, kinda creepy vocals. But then Spin Spinning is right back to traditional ska and what we expect from Judge Roughneck. A few tracks that stand out: Do You Want To Know A Secret – A Beatles cover done up ska. You can never go wrong with a Beatles cover, but we never expected this band to record one. Tom Need is a drinking song and a sailor song that’s fun, but also unexpectedly different. Pick You Up, the title track brings us back to reggae/ska, but in the album it’s actually a counterpoint to the tracks before and after it. Blue Room is one of the edgiest reggae tunes ever. Falling has a kind of echoey haunting quality, as if it were recorded in a large empty concert hall. The call and response on I Heard You When You Said It offers up a whole different kind of sound that is unexpected on a ska album, but works really well.

Judge Roughneck leader Byron Shaw, the group’s main vocalist, is joined on this project by: Chris Reidy, Jon Hegel, Rolf Reitzig, David Dinsmore, Brian Handlos, Cody Swanson, and Donnie Barthelemy. Additional musicians on the album are: Zac Tschillard, Zach Pietlock, and Sidney Shaw. All throughout the album, the horn section gets loads of playing time, which is always welcome, and Shaw’s melodica cuts through just often enough to remind you that this is indeed a ska band.

Overall, Pick You Up, was well worth the wait. Breaking loads of new ground and still satisfying our desire for some new ska. We wholeheartedly recommend that you buy this album and go see Judge Roughneck live every chance you get. See you there!