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A Zest-Filled, Ska-Punk Spoof : Reel Big Fish: "Everything Sucks." Piss-Off Records ** 1/2

February 16, 1996|MIKE BOEHM

Everything may suck, but nothing is serious for this tongue-in-cheek entry in the local ska-punk scene.

Reel Big Fish takes lightly satiric pokes at its own rock-star dreams, at other people's rock-star dreams, at girls who fall for guys who realize their rock-star dreams and at girlfriends whose fickle affections send singer-guitarist Aaron Barret into bemused and confused contortions.

The spoof-minded subject matter is mainly an excuse for the band to run through its zestful paces, in which a bright, sunny, mid-tempo horn-led skank will stop and suddenly turn into a barreling punk-guitar workout, then step lightly with some quick-paced ska rhythms.

Heraldic punk-pop guitar riffs crop up frequently too, adding another catchy element while simultaneously making fun of anything as sonorous as heraldic punk-pop guitar riffs. The stylistic mix-and-match might sound a tad incoherent on paper, but it holds together well on plastic disc.

"Beer" and "Snoop Dog, Baby" are the catchiest confections. "S.R." laments the demise of Suburban Rhythm, a defunct band on the local ska scene, while making facetious fun of such upwardly mobile scenesters as No Doubt and Sublime.

It's insider stuff from a band geared primarily to insiders who follow the ska-punk scene. But the energy, high spirits and sharp playing of Reel Big Fish may be enough to hook some unsuspecting bystanders as well. --M.B.

(Available from Piss-Off Records, 13142 Estes Circle, Westminster, CA 92683)

* Reel Big Fish, Gameface, Grover's Headache and Longfellow play Sunday at the Galaxy Concert Theatre, 3503 S. Harbor Blvd., Santa Ana. 8 p.m. $8. (714) 957-0600.

Albums are rated on a scale of * (poor) to **** (excellent), with *** denoting a solid recommendation.

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