Wading through any era of Jamaican recordings, it becomes obvious island dwellers harbored a sturdy fascination with Western mythologies. Lee Perry’s first album with the Upsetters was called “The Return of Django” and followed a few years later by “Eastwood Rides Again.” Perry wasn’t the only one enthralled—King Stitt fashioned tracks exploring Lee Van Cleef’s legacy as the “Ugly” one. So, by extension, Chicago’s ska enthusiasts, Deal’s Gone Bad, titled its last album “The Ramblers” and emblazoned its cover with a drawing of some cowboy reaching for his revolver.
That was five years ago. And in a band which switches up membership as often as it records, five years is a horrendously long time. Since its founding during the nineties, DGB has been releasing music through local imprint Jump Up Records, helmed by DJ-extraordinaire Chuck Wren. The relationship’s resulted in five full-length recordings, but for the band’s latest single, it’s sought the independent path.
Over time, DGB’s assimilated more and more soul music into its approach of Jamaican appropriations. With a talented collective of performers, it’s not difficult to deftly swing from a rock-steady beat to a quickly paced soul two-step. “Far From Home,” one of the two tracks off that impending single, attempts just such maneuvers, accomplishing them in technical terms. Such quick sonic shifting, though, makes for a difficult listen at times. Using the more quickly paced soul approach for the songs chorus comes off well enough. Transitioning back into the ska and rock-steady passages becomes a bit awkward. Luckily, with the benefit of a few beers, there’s a hearty chance the song’ll do well enough in a live setting. (Dave Cantor)
May 21 at Subterranean, 2011 West North, (773)278-6600, 9pm. $12. 17+.