Ska is not dead, and these ten bands are testament to that. Whilst ska's moved on since the two-tone days, and Madness have been replaced by Mad Caddies, the genre is still thriving, both in the UK and US. Here are some of our favourite modern ska bands.

Reel Big Fish

Reel Big Fish

10. New Riot

They’re new, but set to become huge in the third wave ska scene when they support Reel Big Fish in February. It’s always good to hear UK ska, although New Riot are definitely more third wave than two-tone. There are flashes of influence from older acts like The Specials, but it’s more for fans of more contemporary bands featured higher up in this list.

9. The Skints

There’s more to ska than guitar upstrokes and fast skanking. Sometimes, we need some chilled reggae to remind us where the genre came from. Thankfully, The Skints are fronting that side of the wider ska scene in the UK. It’s unfortunate that the UK bands are still relatively young, because with a few extra records they’d be taking on the big guns in our Top 5. As it is, The Skints manage to make a retro sound feel fresh. Plus, more reggae is always a good thing.

8. Big D and the Kids Table

The contemporary ska scene is undeniably dominated by third wave ska-punk acts, and Big D and the Kids Table are no different. That’s not to say they aren’t very good, although it is more in the live setting that these guys excel. The lyrics aren’t terribly deep, but up-beat tracks about how tough it is trying to make it are always welcome.

7. Suburban Legends

It may be a surprise when you find out that Suburban Legends are, technically, a Disney band. Based in California, the ska group play hundreds of shows each year at the nearby Disneyland Resort. They even throw in live covers of songs like ‘Under The Sea’ and ‘I Just Can’t Wait To Be King’. Their 2005 album Rumpshaker should they’re not really a proper Disney band, just one who happen to perform there. 2008’s Infectious was clichéd and best skipped, but when they’re on their game, they rival some of the top bands in the genre.

6. The King Blues

Like The Skints, Camden-based The King Blues aren’t clear-cut ska. More than any other band on this list, The King Blues are incredibly hard to define. Taking influence from ska, reggae, punk, folk and UK hip-hop, they create a very interesting hybrid. It’s political and alternative, but still classes as ska. If they were more clear-cut, they’d be a lot higher in this list, although their diversity is what makes them so wonderful.

5. [spunge]

Another UK act, [spunge] turned down almost definite mainstream success to keep their integrity and control over their music, which is truly admirable in today’s climate. Although best known for their less serious songs like ‘Kicking Pigeons’, underneath it is some perfect ska musicianship, particularly on ‘The Skanking Song’.

4. Streetlight Manifesto

Whilst it’s true that Streetlight Manifesto’s best album is a re-recording of Keasbey Nights by Catch 22, they are still one of the most exciting bands in the genre. When Catch 22 ended, Tomas Kalnoky started Streetlight Manifesto, re-recording his previous band’s iconic record. However, they’ve gone beyond that with some great original material which places them as one of ska’s best acts.

3. Less Than Jake

Less Than Jake are probably one of the bands most people thought of with this topic. It’s a bit predictable, but they’re well known for a reason: they’re really good at what they do. Although 2006’s In With The Out Crowd was a bit of a departure, it still had some great tracks. They returned to form with GNV FLA, which is a phenomenal punk-ska record. They recently released TV/EP, featuring covers of TV themes and adverts, but we’re eagerly waiting for some proper new material.

2. Mad Caddies

With the release of Consensual Selections, Mad Caddies have cemented their place as a vital part of the third wave scene. It’s quite an achievement, considering none of the members particularly like the ska genre. You wouldn’t guess, though, with their nice blend of reggae and punk-ska. They throw in a bit of everything, including sea-shanties and polka music to make an identifiable sound.

1. Reel Big Fish

Pretty much the face of the third wave, Reel Big Fish are still going strong after nearly two decades. They’re one of the most exciting live bands across any genre, and have a don’t-care attitude that befit’s the ska genre. A new album’s expected for later this year, although it’s the classics people will be turning up to shows for. Any band that can open their gig with their biggest hit (‘Sell Out’) and still keep the fans up for the next hour and a half deserves credit.

By Alistair McGeorge



  1. by Punk Britannia 10th Jan 2011 23:44

    What!
    No Sonic Boom Six, Random Hand or King Prawn.

    Third Wave Ska is now SkaCore

  2. by Jacob Kepford 11th Jan 2011 00:12

    Where the dundt are the Aquabats?

  3. by mark ewing 11th Jan 2011 00:28

    cant argue with that list , especially with real big fish being no 1 . if skas your sort of music then one band i think would get your feet tapping are an aussie band called area 7 i do... Read More

  4. by Eggers 11th Jan 2011 01:28

    Saying Streetlight's best album was their re-recording of Keasbey Nights is embarrassing and sad. Get your heads out of the past.

  5. by Jacinthe 11th Jan 2011 01:48

    The List is great... The only thing missing in my opinion is The Planet Smashers (amazing ska band from montreal canada)

  6. by Andrew 11th Jan 2011 03:20

    I think you forgot the Bosstones. They should be right near the top.

  7. by Chelsea Smith 11th Jan 2011 06:52

    1st...spunge is better then less than jake
    2nd Big D is more punk then ska
    but all in all good list

  8. by Andre 11th Jan 2011 08:44

    Not a bad list at all, love all these bands (specially LTJ & RBF) It's a pity bands like King Prawn, Against All Authority or Suicide Machines aren't still going, they'd be right up the... Read More

  9. by Alistair 11th Jan 2011 12:24

    Just to explain a couple of ommisions. Random Hand and Sonic Boom Six were extremely close to getting in, and were the last two bands I took out.

  10. by Dave 11th Jan 2011 16:28

    Personally I would have put streetlight about rbf, but i can see why you'd put them higher and its just a difference of opinion. well written and fair though :). And i still would have put sb6 in here :)

  11. by Suzy 11th Jan 2011 19:36

    Aww you missed No Doubt, Suicide Bid, The Babylon Whackers, Sonic Boom Six, Random Hand, Aquabats... feeling that the choices here are just a bit obvious... but definitely a tough one t... Read More

  12. by Eephus 11th Jan 2011 20:00

    Catch 22 is still active, they've released plenty of albums since Kalnoky left.

  13. by tut 11th Jan 2011 20:24

    "Sometimes, we need some chilled reggae to remind us where the genre came from"

    you lot need to do some seriosu research if you think Ska came out of Reggae!

  14. by oriole 11th Jan 2011 22:12

    tut, the article doesn't say ska came out of reggae, read again! agree with rbf as no.1, excellent live!!!

  15. by Groundhog 11th Jan 2011 22:28

    I think the list is quite onesided cause modern ska is not just skapunk oder skacore, there are lots of great bands with different styles.
    Even so the list is not bad (I've put MadCadd... Read More

  16. by Timmy 12th Jan 2011 00:12

    The Mighty Mighty Bosstones should be in there,and how bout some uk Ska like Capdown. Wouldnt of put Less Than Jake so high either. Peace out from NZ.

  17. by lalaland 12th Jan 2011 14:08

    yeh im pretty sure they meant you need reggae to remind us of where ska came from

  18. by anteater2010 25th Sep 2013 04:10

    Slackers?? Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra?? Hepcat??

  19. by Tim Rah 17th Mar 2014 15:13

    About 6 of these Bands are not Ska. Streetlight Manifesto is Ska/Skapunk. Most of these Bands listed here are either Reggae or Skacore. New Riot and Less Than Jake are also still Ska. Don't missunderstand me the rest is not bad, but actually more Skacore or Oi! than real Ska.

    If I'm wrong sorry but I picked some songs of the Bands. But first I picked the wrong songs of Beel Big Fish thought they weren't real Ska but I was wrong. :D