tomfoolery. No more brouhaha. Ballyhoo! hailing from Baltimore, Maryland, is on
the scene with their fourth album,
Daydreams, and the new installment is a certain kind of....ballyhoo. Named Daydreams because of the feel-good vibe
it gives off, what originally began as a 4-song session turned into this
ballyhooed 12 track ska/punk masterpiece.
first song titled, "Evil Penguin" begins with a nice piano melody. The title
stirs up memories of one of Batman's arch-nemesis but the tempo's energy is
infectious. The vocalist, Howi Spangler, reminds you of Billy Joe from Green Day on the first verse but the lead
singer evolves into a voice all his own as the song progresses. I love catchy
choruses and this song starts off on the right note with that. By the end, I
still don't know what the Evil Penguin's role has in this song. Maybe it was an
ode to the DC Comic villain?
warn you. I'm not a fan of Ska Punk Rock so we'll find out by the end of this
column if my disdain for the genre still stands. If you don't know what Ska
Punk Rock is, it's a combination of Ska (A Jamaican music genre from the 1950s)
and Punk rock music. The most famous of American bands known for this style were
No Doubt and Sublime (Bands I did like so I may have to backpedal on my warning)
and if you're into the genre, you'll also remember The Mighty Mighty Bosstones (who made me dislike the style again
and shun it for good).
energy marches on with "Last
night" and it's probably the fading memory of a hard night of partying by
the Evil Penguin. Just kidding. It's actually about the regrets of a one night
stand (I think). In any event, the skills of orchestrating a catchy hook
remain. Seriously, I can never get enough shouts of "Hey" in every punk rock
song; even the worst of hooks will sound good with a loud "Hey!" in it. Crunk
music is also a big culprit for exploiting this tactic.
there's a geek in the video that actually looks like a guest cameo appearance
from one of the members of The Mighty
Mighty Bosstones. He can be seen arguing with another guy in an art museum
with a floor covered in empty cans of Red Bull. This might explain Ballyhoo's! frenetic pace set by drummer
Donald Spangler or the catering service for the extras in the video shoot. The
empty cans then form what looks to be a Hummer, no kidding, and it's an
impressive special effect that was probably edited in reverse motion.
be wrong but I haven't heard a lot of guitar solos in rock lately. Well, the
famine ends here. The rhythmic guitar solo on this song was simple but still
added a touch to the song that one won't hear a lot of rock bands do much anymore.
influence of reggae seeps into a song called "Diamonds." It's about the girls
that stick with you through the thick and thin. I can hear a remake from
Garnett Silk on this joint. It's a nice slow down and though the production
doesn't introduce anything new to the genre, it's still a nice simple piece you
might hear on a movie soundtrack that includes a beach scene with fill-in-teeny-bopper-star's-name-here.
singer/guitarist sounds like he had a brief meeting with Beach Boy Brian Wilson
to begin the song, "Say I'm wrong." The master engineer smartly placed this
song right after "Diamonds" on the album, considering the pace and mood are
consistent. The guitar solo gave me the urge to pick up a virgin piña colada.
stilted rhythm in "Sandcastles" breaks free from any lurking monotony. Howi's
vocals complementing the other harmonies have a rich, albeit thin, tone that
bring the hooks to life.
was inspired by '70s sitcom star Archie Bunker when said star would tease his
son-in-law. Again, I'm just kidding. Ballyhoo!
have a few titles to their songs that evoke teasing from me. The arrangements
during the verses are fun to listen to. I didn't care for the hook too much but
the instrumentation between the guitar, drums and bass keep things interesting.
The mix engineer added just the right amount of reverb and distortion to Howi's
JR Gregory's bass leads the way on "Anti-social" and keeps the mood light despite its contrary title. Ballyhoo! doesn't stray from its identity. Some bands, whether rock or rap, have the itch to throw in a little bit of everything on an album, thus, never creating an identity that fans can be familiar with. You won't have that problem on this album.
Donald Spangler takes advantage of his tom toms on "The Getaway." However, at this point in the album, the songs are beginning to sound too homogeneous. Again, they stick to their identity but that doesn't mean they can't explore deeper territories of sound and evolve just a bit. To be fair to Ballyhoo!, I haven't heard albums 1, 2 and 3 so no one should dare read too deeply into this assessment with that in mind. This is Ballyhoo's! first album as far as I'm concerned. It's the 4th for their loyal fans which seem to be growing day by day since 2011.
However, Ballyhoo! manages to leave on a high note with "Ricochet." It's a mid-tempo song about "keeping your head up in dark times" that begins with Scott Vandrey's endearing piano melody that evokes upliftment - definitely the type of song you would leave for last. Howi and his guitar complement each other during the hook, which is what one may call Ballyhoo's! staple diet throughout the 12-song production.
the songs are not boring, there is no new element added to the genre. No new
interpretation that I look for with new or indie bands. I look for originality
and, honestly, I did not hear any innovative production or a couple of songs
that would constitute real risk-taking. The musicians are on point, the vocals
are easy to sing along to, but will I play Ballyhoo!
in my mp3 player again? Probably not. Is that due to my lack of affection for
the Ska/Punk genre? Maybe. But that's where bands with fresh ideas break down
barriers of musical prejudice.
Ballyhoo! is fun to listen and a blast
while you're playing beach volleyball but Ska/Punk will remain to me what it
has been since The Mighty Mighty
The self-proclaimed Zig Ziglar of rap,
Billy Delgado, is a Music Producer/Artist and Writer by day and sleeping
pillow-drooler by night. He is currently producing the debut album for his band
The 288's, a God-inspired Hip Hop/R&B group that combines soul-baring
lyricism with an electric innovative sound, breaking from the norm and reaching
all cultures & ages (save senior citizens). He still can't believe he's
a family man with a beautiful wife Mari & three boys Chris, Nelson and
Joshua, so he continues to pinch himself silly to this day.