Review by: Mister Substitute
Compilation albums are the coolest thing to me: I get that kid-in-a-candy-store feeling and I can listen to a comp album 10 times over before moving on to something else. The best part about comp albums is where they take you: the rabbit hole of finding new bands, the endless searching and scavenging for more material from bands that struck a chord with you. Yes, compilation albums are by far my favorite gateway drug.
I knew of Atlas through the ska social scene, but it was on Ska Punk International’s “Songs for Mom Volume 2” that I was able to finally hear the band that is Atlas & Oracle when they covered Lovin’ Spoonful’s classic “Daydream.” Instantly I was intrigued by Atlas’ voice: a crystal-clear, deep and strong singing voice that is as versatile as it is unique.
And now, Atlas & Oracle have added to their first full-length album “Jubilee.” Seven new tracks have been added to their album, making it a 14-track joy of an album. I was looking forward to hearing a full-length album from A&C and hoping it would really highlight Atlas’ voice, and boy did Jubilee provide exactly that. Jubilee is brilliantly written both in lyrics and in music. It was catchy, fluent, and ethereal. It had multiple moments of beautiful prose coupled with a band of talented musicians that I still can recall from memory.
“Jubilee” starts with the funky track in “Walls Come Crashing.” You absolutely hear the ska influences in this track, but only traces of ska, and that was something that was greatly appreciated on my part because A&O put together that is very much their own thing, and it’s a solid sound. The following tracks are much slower and deeper in thought but each track is just absolutely stunning and, again, thought-provoking. Another track, “Don’t (Need To) Try” is very much a nod to American poet Charles Bukowski (one of my personal favorites), but also a wonderful message to those of us who create artistically or otherwise: Don’t try. The album’s title track “Jubilee” is the perfect encapsulation of A&O’s sound and essence: vocal-driven, horns as both harmony and their own entity, and a poignant message. I also have to give a shout out to the album’s ending track, an acoustic guitar diddy called “When That Ska Music’s Playing” because as a 30-something year old still going to these ska shows, I felt this song on a very personal level.
You know what I, Mr. Substitute, really hope for? I hope people listen to “Jubilee” and start supporting A&O so they can make more music. Bold statement huh? I stand by it. Because I thoroughly enjoyed this album and I looked at their Spotify discography and saw they only started some time around 2020 but Jubilee is their first full-length album. A&O has the talent, I want to see what they can do with support and encouragement.