Ballyhoo! – Daydreams
1. Evil Penguin
2. Last Night
4. Say I’m Wrong
5. Walk Away
7. If You Gotta Go
11. The Getaway
The Pier Album Rating:
Release Date: Sept 6th, 2011
Record Label: LAW Records
Official Website: Ballyhoo! Website
By tying the “life of the party” approach with their musical talents, Ballyhoo! has knowingly and naturally become one of America’s favorite feel-good party bands. Ballyhoo! formed as high school students in the city of Aberdeen, Maryland. While you can find original music from Ballyhoo! dating back to the 2000s, the release of Do It For The Money in 2006 projected the four-piece sensation into the local and national scene with their unique musical blueprints and party anthems. By combining the sounds of alternative, reggae, rock, punk, and pop, Ballyhoo! has created a niche in the rock-reggae scene that has amassed tons of fans and dedicated followers throughout the nation.
Their most recent album titled Cheers! was released in 2008 and produced by 311’s Scotch Ralston. They have since then ventured on a nationwide tours with 311, Pepper, Authority Zero, and The Supervillians. In the early months of 2011, Ballyhoo! inked a deal with Pepper-owned LAW records. Ballyhoo! is the latest addition to the LAW Records family joining reggae phenoms such as Iration, Passafire, The Supervillians, Splinta, and of course Pepper.
Their newest album Daydreams is their first under LAW records. The 12-track multi-dimensional album was recorded and produced at Sound Lounge studios in Orlando, Florida by Greg Shields and Mike Stebe.
In 2006, I could remember that kids my age were just moving beyond the Sublime stage and sifting through the newly discovered reggae scene in America. One day I was going through my iTunes account, specifically the “Listeners Also Bought” section curiously to find Ballyhoo!’s Do it For The Money as a top selection for my choice of music. Five years later, I’m listening to Daydreams; a definite expansion upon the raw, rather laid back recordings of their past. A more professional-sounding process was conjured up which effectively vitalized each of the instrumental roles, including the vocal chords of Howi Spangler and his lyrics.
On top of a more polished, professional sound, Ballyhoo! rocks out harder and ventures into the alternative rock genre quite a bit. But behind the lungs of Howi Spangler, I can’t imagine anyone any predominantly reggae/rock band pulling it off better. In addition, Scott Vandrey AKA DJ Blaze learned how to jam on the piano. In both the opening and closing song off of Daydreams, you will hear the new piano layer that Ballyhoo! was eager to flaunt.
The first few sounds you’ll hear are indeed some broken piano scales in the song “Evil Penguin”. The Evil Penguin is actually a metaphor for the whole system on which we dwell upon and by. The chorus was profoundly outlined in weighty power chords by Lead singer and guitarist Howi Spangler. The Piano appears later in the song as Spangler belts out, “Find a way to disobey, start taking back what’s yours”. Other song, Last Night runs along much of the same structure excluding the fact that Howi’s guitar emphasizes a not-so-common progression in your average reggae song.
The first single that Ballyhoo! released is the fourth track titled Say I’m Wrong. It takes a step back from the pummeling guitar riffs and even includes an acoustic solo about halfway through the song. As Howi described it himself to The Pier, the ballad is about the general feeling that naturally arrives after losing someone. It is the feeling that we all get when you think you love someone more than he/she loves you, and this song is about concluding those doubts and moving forward. Along the same lines is one of my favorites If You Gotta Go, the song is about losing love and the disarray it leaves behind.
On the other end of the love spectrum, Diamonds is a song that most reminds me of old-school Ballyhoo!. It starts off with an echoing jumble of chords that foreshadow how the song will progress as it seems to mesh flawlessly with the upcoming and sporadic riff and slow-paced skanking rhythms that appear throughout the entirety of the song. “She’s just not ordinary girl, I thought I’d never find her” basically summarizes the song. Howi goes on to call his ultimate love a “Diamond in disguise”. Anti-social is another song that deserves credit as a reggae song.
Meathead is the most alternative piece of work I have ever observed out of Ballyhoo!. The buoyant bass line announces its presence as soon as the first verse kicks in. As the electric guitar slides in, I couldn’t help but think of Jet, the Dandy Warhols, etc. Those thoughts began to fade as the undeniably gifted voice of Howi hit the mic singing about exactly the kind of person mentioned in the title.
The last track, Ricochet is my favorite on DayDreams. DJ Blaze’s piano is present almost throughout the whole song. The mixture of this piano progression with Howi’s extremely versatile and calming voice surprisingly intertwined an hopeful vibe with an expressive message. Howi sings, “I believe we can bounce back from anything no matter how much devastation we endure”; there is an excess of hearty, inspiring lines that deal with hope and rising out of strife with a positive approach.
Daydreams truly frames the best of Ballyhoo!’s most immediate and apparent talents to me. There are your party anthems on the album, but there are also a number of songs with a message that shouldn’t be taken for granted. Almost every song is different in some way, whether it be a basic rhythm change or completely dipping into another genre. This is definitely a ground-breaking album for the east-coast veterans in the scene, not only accredited to the fact it is their first with LAW records.
Written & Reviewed by: Matt Emodi
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