The Chinkees – Searching for a Brighter Future (Asian Man Records)

The worst part of the Chinkees new long player is that it doesn’t get cranking til around the seventh track, “Merry Mary, Will You Marry Me?” Titular wordplay aside, the song is peppy and poppy and is the rocking and melodic kick up the ass that this often too-deliberate ska group needed. “Merry Mary” is followed by the equally catchy, “Last Night I Saw You on the Morning News,” a song that finds the best in the Chinkees 21st century ska. It’s really a shame that these two songs appear so late in the running order. Once you hear and enjoy them, going back through the rest of the record is more enjoyable. It’s just that it takes a while to get cranking. Oddly, The Chinkees (probably in a bid to be as politically timely as their heroes) cram too many words into their tunes. Singer Mike Park often has nice vocal melodies but just says too much. Still, the Chinkees stay away from angry punk ska and cheesy pop ska and it’s definitely a credit to them. Even so, one wishes sometimes for the playful humor of Park’s previous group, Skankin Pickle.