CD Review: The Chardon Polka Band “World War Polka”

Posted: March 25, 2016 in Music

The Chardon Polka Band is a band consisting of Members: Singer, accordion player, guitarist Jake Kouwe; banjo player Mike Franklin; saxophone player, singer Emily Kouwe; and drummer Joe Dahlhausen. As a musical ensemble, The Chardon Polka Band is easily one of the busiest acts in the Greater Cleveland, as they are constantly performing for Polka music lovers all over the area on a regular basis. And as a recording group, they are just as busy having just released the 2015 Christmas album entitled Polka Round the Christmas Tree and then recently releasing a regular album of Polka standards and originals only a few months later. The band’s latest release of standards and originals is entitled World War Polka.

With the first track from World War Polka, The Chardon Polka Band makes no bones about the direction they take when performing music. The track of “Tic Toc Tavern/We’re Not Gonna Take It” finds the band creating a medley consisting of two standard tunes…but from two very different styles of music. “Tic Toc Tavern” makes use of the polka side of the band’s personality and that part of the song sounds as if they have performed the tune hundreds as it comes out on the album as strong as if they were performing it live. When the band changes directions for the song from Twisted Sister, “We’re Not Gonna Take It” has the same feel and attitude as the original but with a Polka sound to it. The combination of the two songs together shows off the versatility of the members of the group.

Starting off with “Tic Toc Tavern/We’re Not Gonna Take It” was a very smart way for The Chardon Polka Band to begin their new album as it helps to indicate to the listener just what would follow. The band’s new release of World War Polka comes complete with standard Polka tunes, as well as Polka arrangements of pop/rock tunes, plus some original tracks that show off the band’s musical influences, whether they are Polka or pop related.

For the band’s cover material on World War Polka, The Chardon Polka Band finds some slightly unusual tracks to cover. While they do perform the standard “Julida Polka,” it’s songs like Beyonce’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)” and “Squeeze Box” from The Who that once again show off the many influences that the band incorporates into their sound. One of the standout covers on the release belongs to the song “A Kiss at the End of The Rainbow,” a song most would recognize from the movie A Mighty Wind. While the track was originally a soft ballad, the new version from The Chardon Polka Band ends up being a waltz.

As far as the band’s original material on World War Polka, The Chardon Polka Band writes songs that truly push the envelope when it comes to what people would consider normal Polka. When listening to the original songs from the band, the song “You Can’t Take My Polka from Me” seems like it would easily fit with the usual list of standards. However, it is songs like “Punks at the Bar” that may have some Polka lovers scratching their heads as the song is definitely different than the standard Polka tune.

Perhaps the standout track on World War Polka from The Chardon Polka Band is the tune “You Can’t Drink Beer in Outer Space”. The track finds the band creating an upbeat track that has plenty of humor to it as singer/accordion player Jake Kouwe sings about the types of professions that aren’t good to have if you like to drink beer on the job. The upbeat and light-hearted feel to the song makes it easily one of the best tracks on the album.

The Chardon Polka Band’s new album World War Polka is a solid release that will satisfy any die hard Polka lover. Plus, with the many different elements that combine to create the tracks on the album, there are plenty of moments on the release that should appeal to those who may or may not have discovered the magic of Polka music yet. With each album they release, The Chardon Polka Band proves they are as good as anyone out there today creating the music.

  1. I love that name World War Polka. Also the movie ‘A Mighty Wind’ a classic, as is Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show. Great post!

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