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By: Jessica Grose

Attention ska enthusiasts from the mid-’90s. It’s time to dust off your skankin’ shoes for Hard-Fi. Emerging from the self-proclaimed “Armpit of Middlesex,” Hard-Fi follows in the grand tradition of blue-collar British bands like Madness and the Clash, peppering their rock with Caribbean influences. Hard-Fi’s debut U.S. EP, Cash Machine, is coming at a time when their U.K. brethren the Kaiser Chiefs are taking up the disaffected, working-class Brit flag.

Hard-Fi has gained notoriety already for their cover of the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army.” But Hard-Fi’s lead singer Richard Archer is no Jack White wannabe: He makes the Stripes’ 2003 hit into a sultry, echo-filled jam. Another highlight of the EP is the title track. Over a deceptively free-spirited bass line, Archer sings about the troubles of youth and money management. “What am I gonna do,” Archer laments, “My girlfriend’s test turned blue…I can’t afford to be a dad / And so I leave tonight.” Hard-Fi gets serious props for brining up a urine test in a rock song.

Hard-Fi is also getting serious props in their own country: They’re up against eleven other bands including the Chiefs and such bright lights as M.I.A. for Britain’s prestigious Mercury Prize this September. Hard-Fi is currently on tour in the United States, but they only have a couple more stateside dates before jetting off to the sexy shores of Ibiza, Spain, this August.

Hard-Fi U.S. tour dates:

7/28, Tucson, AZ (Club Congress)7/29, San Diego, CA (Qualcomm Stadium)7/30, Los Angeles, CA (Troubadour)7/31, San Francisco, CA (Cafe Du Nord)

Link:Hard-Fi official site

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