McAsh, 'Evolved Long Enough' | Album Review | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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McAsh, 'Evolved Long Enough'

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Published May 1, 2024 at 10:00 a.m.


McAsh, Evolved Long Enough - COURTESY
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  • McAsh, Evolved Long Enough

(What Doth Life, digital)

McAsh have not dropped an album in 24 years. The ska band's last full-length appeared in 2000, just one year after it formed while in high school. Since then, the Windsor outfit has experienced multiple reimaginings and a few reunions — including a virtual one during the pandemic to release "Oi (Dang)," a single about lockdown frustrations. The group has even had some meltdowns, according to its Bandcamp page. Now McAsh step into "middle age and median wage" to release Evolved Long Enough, a clever collection that even non-ska fans should enjoy.

On "Mouth," vocalist Ryan Hebert — a cofounder of Windsor collective and label What Doth Life and a member of many of its bands — reminisces about being 16, when "our backs didn't hurt and our knees didn't creak." He sings about how former MTV VJ Carson Daly assured him he was safe, while Britney Spears' well-being was in doubt. For elder millennials, the song resonates with nostalgia, recalling a collective awareness of impending struggles for the pop star — if not for the generation as a whole.

With drummer Timmy Knapp and bassist Chi Chi holding down the rhythm section, most of Evolved Long Enough delivers the classic upbeat tempo and lively horn sound of third-wave ska. In that regard, this album feels very '90s, but the witty, often hilarious lyrics — and their subject matter — are unmistakably now.

"This Medical Debt" describes the hell that is navigating the U.S. medical system — a topic about which guitarist and saxophonist Kiel Alarcon learned all too much after being disabled by the rupture of a spinal tumor. The mood is less cheerful as the track delivers a commentary on toxic masculinity, specifically the pressure on men always to appear strong.

On "GMO's," McAsh mock far-right-wing conspiracy theorists, citing fears of 5G cellular networks and declaring that "skinny polar bears are crisis actresses, who reassigned their gender to appease satanic abortionists." The song includes a clip of disgraced pundit Alex Jones, who stoked fear of GMOs and was ordered to pay $1.5 billion for calling the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut a hoax.

Contributing to the album's tongue-in-cheek vibe is the brief track "(An Endorsement)." A Gov. Phil Scott impersonator declares McAsh the one band that unites Vermont, commending them for skanking the state to freedom "when jam bands held our radio waves hostage" and claiming that Ben & Jerry's was originally called Ben & Jerry's & McAsh.

Clearly, McAsh enjoy having fun. "Cochlea-Cola" is chock-full of chicken puns. And "Unicorn" — a "one-horned love story" — proclaims, "You've been horny all your life." It was released as a single ahead of the album on April 9, in honor of National Unicorn Day.

Fun and kitschy but with plenty of depth, Evolved Long Enough demonstrates that McAsh have evolved into an intelligent force.

Evolved Long Enough is available on all major streaming platforms and at whatdothlifevt.bandcamp.com.

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