Rantanplan have been on the German ska-punk scene for almost a quarter of a century and this is their tenth release since their debut – Kein Schulterklopfen released on BA Records. This five piece outfit has changed significantly over the years, with only the singer Torben Meissner remaining as a founding member of the band. The first time I heard them was on Grover Record’s 1998 release ‘Up Your Ears Vol 2 and despite the lineup changes, the sound is still the same hard, edgy, rhythmic ska-core that grabs the attention instantly.
Stay Rudel – Stay Rebel kicks off with the eponymous title track which is a pretty formulaic, hard edged ska track with a good sing-along chorus, but nothing too ground shaking. But then we come to the second track – interestingly entitled Foodporn. The rumbling bass pulls this beast of a track along before breaking down into a staccato first verse. As it reaches the chorus, it blasts into a sound that would not sound out of place on the Mighty Mighty Bosstones’ Let’s Face It album with a well placed, subtle horn section in the background. Surely a single contender here!
It is difficult to engage lyrically with my limited knowledge of German as the whole album is sung in the band’s native language. At first this put me off, but this album really is a grower. The next two tracks storm through with Maschine sat awkwardly within this album. An/Aus caught me completely off-guard. A stormer of a street punk song in juxtaposition to the earlier tracks. This is the fastest song and I’m sure will quickly become a favourite in the pit at live shows.
The second half of the album has a completely different pace and feel. Here the ska pushes to the fore and the punk takes a more supporting role. Nachtzug nach Paris is again an early Bosstones influenced sound enhanced by a touch of melodica in there. Rantanplan really do choruses well and this track is no exception. Partytrick is the most blatantly ska song on the album and is guaranteed to get you singing along with the chorus (not an easy feat to achieve on a foreign language album).
Rudegirl has a really nice seventies British reggae guitar sound and a different singing style from Meissner adds yet another layer of interest and variety to the album. The next track is cleverly positioned. The bass, drums and horns recreate the same tempo of Rudegirl before the pace quickens and launches into Kill den Spiegel. Not quite ska-core but rather a hard edged ska song with good use of the horn section. The album closes with a stripped down acoustic track which actually works really well and draws the album to a natural close.
An album truly of two halves – an upbeat ska punker for the first half, whilst the ska pushes through on the second half. Maybe not an instant grabber, but an album that grows and develops over a few listens. An accomplished piece that maintains Rantanplan’s place at the top of the German ska-core
Stay Rudel – Stay Rebel is released on January 25th
Martin Pressling runs the UK’s best online Ska radio station, Button Down Radio, which you can find out more about HERE