Umbrella Bed – “Gone Away”

Umbrella Bed

As a common fixture in the second wave of ska, the “2 Tone” genre was particularly prominent in England throughout the late ’70s and early ’80s. The Specials, The Beat, and Madness were a few of the acts leading the charge. Some decades later, Minneapolis-based Umbrella Bed are reminding listeners of just how fun “2 Tone” was. They actually have an interesting historical account of the genre on their web site; it’s well worth a read as you listen to highlights off their impressive new album, Refill. In that bio, Umbrella Bed takes you from their 1995 beginnings to today, where years of international touring and acclaim has resulted in their most polished results yet.

Standout track “Gone Away” does a nice job of showing Umbrella Bed’s sound. Hellrocket’s lead vocals may be slighter than other “2 Tone” leaders like Madness and The Specials, but the wavering between nonchalance and unbridled enthusiasm provides for a constantly engrossing vocal performance that benefits from its looseness. Bass lines descend around reflective bursts of sax effectively during the bridge, helping build toward an infectious result. Another highlight, “Two Tone Monster” contrasts crunchy rock guitar riffs with fleeting saxophone lines. Excitable vocal additives remind heavily of Madness’ exciting sound. You can check out the video for “Two Tone Monster” below, in addition to a full stream of Refill:

Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound, which was formed in 2006. Previously, I wrote for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine.

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