IT SEEMS no more likely to seep into the American mainstream this time around than it did in its previous incarnations as Jamaican and then British music, but the third coming of ska as a stateside dance-club music has engendered a whole subculture of beat-minded young bands and their fans. Originally a reggae predecessor, ska offers the same Caribbean lilt free of Rastafarian baggage to such combos as Rhode Island's Bop (Harvey), one of the first Yank neo-ska bands to break into the minor leagues with its album "Bread & Circuses."
Like the bands in the British "2-tone" movement that revived the sound more than a decade ago, this septet tries for relevance on such songs as "Can't Blame the Youth," which opines that "the battle is hot in South Africa/the battle is hot in Central 'Merica/The battle is hot in mid-east Asia . . . " and so on. As middle-class white pretenders, though, the Harveys never bring the requisite urgency to such plaints, and their attempts to claim Biblical imagery ("Lazarus") are unconvincing.
They're cogent, however, when they stick to their true message, as revealed in "Vibe": "The truth is the power, the power is the beat/The beat is the drum and the drum is in your feet/So move your feet."