The Next Best Thing
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The Next Best Thing

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"A Clash of UK Punk and Jamaican Roots"

A Clash of UK Punk and Jamaican Roots:
Canada’s ‘The Next Big Thing’ on Tour in Your Backyard

The Great Lakes haven’t been known for pumping out the same powerful riddims as the Caribbean, although they may contain about as much water. They do have something else in common -great live reggae- in the form of The Next Best Thing. Not just reggae, TNBT is from a region in Ontario full of British-style fish and chips and a climate suited to UK punk sensibilities. It’s neither England nor Jamaica but The Next Best Thing may be Canada’s hardest working live band.

There is a special magic when the angst of youth rock mixes with the pointed social commentary of reggae. While rasta lyrics can be biting, even the hardest of Jamaican singers use melody and an underlying Caribbean bounce. TNBT has followed this lead while retaining their punk/ska roots. Multi-instrumentalist Luke Marshall explains the evolution of TNBT’s diverse influences, “We started with punk like The Clash and early skinhead reggae bands from the UK. Sublime was a huge influence, we started hitting other bands in the ska genre, then turned to Augustus Pablo, King Tubby, The Abyssinians, Buju Banton, Damian Marley, The Slackers, and the Easy Star All-Stars.”

For the Jamaican originals and our boys from Burlington, these lively backbeats translate well to dancehalls and keep the crowd in a perpetual sway. The live show is crucial to experiencing TNBT’s music as it is meant to be witnessed. Seeing no need for chairs at their gigs, drummer Colin Morgan states, “We are a live party band. We want people to have a great time. We take a lot of pride as musicians to do everything we can to hone our skills and write songs to complement the live performance with rhythm and tones. We make melodies that catch people and make them move.”

This rare breed of slacker perfectionists is obsessed with honing their skills and expanding their musical range for the sake of making the party swing every time they take the stage. Playing music together since they were as young as ten, members of TNBT have evolved as one working unit. Similar to NY icons The Slackers, they concentrate on the live performance with lengthy sets involving the crowd. Like Ween, they take all requests, even improvising songs on the spot as diverse as “Gin and Juice”, “Simmer Down”, “Red Red Wine”, old Zeppelin songs or even a Jay-Z track. Colin notes, “We play three-set gigs and throw in several unlikely covers. We like to be able to play about any reggae song shouted out at a show. Actually, we’ll try to cover any song requested at our shows.”

Working Machine is their third album. Self-released on Transform Entertainment in Canada, Working Machine is working its way into the US market. Besides ska and reggae, Working Machine reeks of funk, soul, experimental and even a little heavy rock. Asking any of the band members about the new album title gets a similar response. Luke puts it this way, “We decided to ‘gig hard’ over the past few years. ‘Working Machine’ is meant to get across we are a hard working band, playing as often as possible, progressing into a well oiled machine. We keep chugging away, gigging three to four times a week, constantly pushing forward.”

The Next Best Thing blends the best of reggae and punk into a sound all their own. So, save yourself the airfare and check out some damn good music right here in your own backyard.
- Anthony Piatt - Fly On The Wall Media

"Ill Scarlett - w/ The Next Best Thing, Keepin’ 6 31/07/2004"

So I find myself in Canada one Saturday night and ask myself what could be better than checking out the local band scene? Very little, it turns out, when the bands are as good as this. Picture the scene: a tiny box of a venue, a couple of hundred high school kids who double up as thoroughly dedicated fans and, perhaps most strangely, no bar. Arriving around 7.30pm, a few lesser known bands have already completed their sets, however my timing was perfect: The Next Best Thing have just taken to the stage.

And what an apt band name they chose for themselves. Commonly acronymated to TNBT, this quintet and their style of funky, slick Reggae/Dub-based sounds are adored. Alongside a tight rhythm section, subtle keyboard work and a dextrous lead guitarist, TNBT is led by bouncy saxophone and trumpet melodies with amazingly accurate vocal harmonies. Close your eyes for five seconds and you could easily mistake yourself for being somewhere very far away from the quiet suburban town of Streetsville. By the end of their set, everything is dripping in adolescent sweat. The floor is a pool of humidity from the large group of high school kids skanking around the back portion of the 20ft square box that they’re crammed into. -

"CD Reviews - The Next Best Thing - Suburban Dub Syndicate"

Hello Sports Fans,

The first time I ever saw The Next Best Thing was in a shitty little bar in Burlington three years ago where they were opening for The Salads (before they were anyone to write home about…meaning before their faces and songs were everywhere). I thought they were great but then I didn’t see them again until this past summer when they played with The Afterbeat at Moe’s Tavern (R.I.P.). For those who live in the Guelph area you have seen the band open for everyone good ska band that comes to town. They may be the best ska band that Ontario has to offer. Their new record Suburban Dub Syndicate is a solid 16 song offering that deserves to get stuck in your player. The band melds their love of ska and reggae into a sound that may not be wholly original…but what is these days…the songs are solid…the harmonies are sweet and all of these guys can play…there is no weak link…

Standout Tracks:

40s In The Park, Rainy Day Reggae, Lion, Culture Jam, New Dub, Seasons Change, Cut

This band is always playing gigs so check out their website (which can be found in the links section of this site) for more info.


- Jerry Two Tone for 4th Wave Zine


Skattack LP - 2002
Suburban Dub Syndicate LP - 2004
S.C.E.N.E./Mobile Festival Compilation - 2005
Working Machine EP - 2005
Working Machine LP - 2005
Tune Tank @ MIDEM Compilation - 2006

Songs from both Surburban Dub Syndicate LP and Working Machine receive campus and commercial radio play.

Some tracks from both Surburban Dub Syndicate LP and Working Machine LP are streamed online at:


Feeling a bit camera shy


In October of 1999 five Burlington Central High School friends decided to collaborate with each other in an attempt to intertwine their musical interests. Their evolution has produced a unique sound that has captivated listeners of all ages. Over the past 6 years they have played well over 250 shows entertaining audiences and developing a loyal following wherever they have showcased their talents. The bands dynamic evolution has managed to keep fans excited and loyal. Over the past the past three years The Next Best Thing has played Burlington's renowned Sound of Music Festival, having graced the main stage twice in that time, performing for an audience of more than 2,000.

Since the band's inception they have released 2 full length albums; 1999's Skattack and their most recent album, 2004's Suburban Dub Syndicate. Both albums were released independently, emphasizing The Next Best Thing�s �do it yourself� work ethic. Both albums have been well received, selling out of their initial presses (500). Suburban Dub Syndicate is currently at over 900 albums sold independently.

The Next Best Thing's sound is an eclectic mix of musical genres including reggae, dance hall, hip hop, funk, and calypso, among others. They delve deep within the roots of these influences to create an original sound. Their lyrics express the bands social conscience as well as reflecting upon their personal experiences. They band has a professional attitude and infectious stage prescience and it is never too long before the crowd hits the dance floor. They are punctual, professional, and will deliver a tight, high energy show.