The Gadjits have found a clever way to separate themselves from the ska-revival pack. On their third album, "Wish We Never Met," the teenage Kansas City quartet reinvents Elvis Costello's early singles as ska records. The 15 songs on "Wish We Never Met" are credited to Gadjits bassist Zach Phillips and guitarist Brandon Phillips, but the vocal melody and organ riff for Zach's "Bad Gadjit" are lifted directly from Costello's "Radio Radio" and Brandon's "Somebody's Wife" is a transparent rewrite of Costello's "Allison."
Such thievery is not necessarily a bad thing, for it reflects an aspiration to make ska something more than mere party music. The Kansas brothers (a third brother plays drums, and friend Hillary Allen plays organ) plumb the depths of suburbia to examine bad marriages, frustrated teenage lovers, tempting drugs, masturbation and goth-rock fans. They don't quite have the hang of it yet, but their herky-jerky riffs and frank lyrics prove they're getting closer and closer to their admirable goal .
Appearing Friday at Phantasmagoria with Edna's Goldfish and My Superhero.
To hear a free Sound Bite from the Gadjits, call Post-Haste at 202/334-9000 and press 8121. (Prince William residents, call 690-4110.)